Step Goal Holidays

1. Walk the Freedom Trail in Boston (gentle)

Boston, Massachusetts

The two and a half mile red brick-lined Freedom Trail will lead you past 16 fascinating historical sites. Explore at your own pace or take an organised walking tour of approximately 90 minutes and get your steps going.

2. Hike from Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa to Anse Mondon (moderate)

Anse Mondon, Silhouette Island, The Seychelle
Take the four-hour trek from the Hilton Labriz Resort and Spa, through the National Park to Anse Mondon. With stunning panoramic views, this is your perfect excuse to get your steps in, even on a beach escape.

3. Climb the Great Wall of China (moderate to challenging)

Depending on the challenge and how advanced a hiker you are, the Great Wall of China has routes for all. From a couple of hours to seven days; see the untouched, part-restored and reconstructed sections of the Great Wall – definitely a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

4. Walk the entire length of the Las Vegas Strip (gentle)

Las Vegas Strip

Lined with hotels, casinos, shops, restaurants and attractions, walking The Strip is the best way to see Las Vegas. Four miles in total will ensure you get your daily steps in.

5. Reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (challenging)

Far from a walk in the park, this is one for the ambitious walkers. Through every type of climate, from misty rainforests to its snowy peak, the seven day summit will be an unforgettable journey of discovery.

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

6. Climb Mount Kinabalu in Borneo (moderate)

Not quite ready for the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro but still need a challenge? Then Mount Kinabalu is for you. Standing at 4095 metres embark on a two day summit trek; bound to make your Fitbit buzz.

7. Shop ’til you drop in the world’s largest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall (gentle)

Filled with luxury brands, peruse the shops with a gentle stroll. For a challenge, add some weight with some purchases to carry. Who said shopping wasn’t exercise!

8. Trek to Machu Picchu (challenging)

Machu Picchu in Peru

You’ve seen the photographs, now see it for real. As well as reaching beyond your steps, walk the ancient and beautiful Inca Trail as you hike through dense forests, over mountains and through ruined fortresses.

9. Take a village tour of Chiang Mai with Tamarind Village (gentle)

Get your steps in while taking in the local culture as you set off on Tamarind Village’s The Village Walk tour of some of the neighbourhood’s most interesting temples and sites.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

10. Climb to Everest Base Camp (challenging)

Surprisingly achievable for people from all walks of life. Climbing to Everest Base Camp is challenging but the personal sense of accomplishment plus the awe-inspiring views of the world’s highest peak is a story you can dine off for years to come.

Everest Base Camp

Visit our holiday types pages to reach your goals and for more inspiration for your next big trip

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Where to spot elephants

As I write this blog article, on my desktop facing me is a lovely picture of an elephant I took while on safari. It was stood right next to the jeep and I was so petrified, I didn’t want to take the picture in case the ponderous pachyderm took exception to the shutter sound. It did not. I lived to tell the tale and I have the picture as evidence.

On another occasion, I was busy filming these attractive beasts, they were so close my heart was pounding with the excitement of capturing the moment, I forgot to press the record button.

These are exhilarating experiences I won’t forget, a mixture of serenity, fear and wonder – and it is something I would advise everyone do at least once in their lives. So if you’ve ever wanted to see these amazing animals up close and personal – here are my top places for elephant spotting.

Thailand

1. Thailand is a stunning country, I think you’ll agree. Sublime cuisine, culture experiences at every twist and turn, laidback locals and some of the most wonderful scenery this writer has ever spent time in. It’s a country that deserves to be explored from top to bottom and not just the glorious islands.

One such place is found in the northern wilderness jungles above Chiang Mai. Here you’ll find the Thai Elephant Care Centre, a place of sanctuary for elderly elephants to live out their days in peace and harmony, lovingly cared for by this sanctuary and the Asian Elephant Foundation. There’s plenty to keep you occupied here; you can volunteer to learn to make grinded grass to feed the elephants and also, under guidance, you can help bathe them too. These are life-changing, emotional encounters, where you can be a small but essential part of this inspiring programme to preserve the welfare of elephants in Northern Thailand.

Thai elephant

2. Also in Thailand, but in somewhat more comfortable surroundings is the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort, a five star award-winning resort with onsite elephant camp set up in 2003 to provide a home for rescued elephants, and they have excelled in doing so.

Not only do these graceful creatures roam throughout the rugged hill country near the border of Laos and Myanmar, but the resort also offers mahout courses, and other conservation-related activities. If you want to get involved with the animals amid the luxury of a five star resort, this will be the place for you.

Yet, if that weren’t enough to tempt your average Thailand enthusiast to book a guest suite here immediately, Anantara Golden Triangle Resort all inclusive deal also includes a Thai cookery class, a 90 minute spa treatment, a Golden Triangle excursion and an Elephant Camp experience in one amazing package. Face it, you probably won’t want to leave this place will you?

3. Leaving the north, and heading into Southern Thailand and Khao Sok National Park should really top your Thailand travel wish-list. The landscape here, with so many people drawn to the beaches, you’ll mostly have this spectacular region to yourself, plus it is so stunning it will melt hearts.

Another reason to visit this inland place of beauty is the Elephant Hills Jungle Safari – Luxury Tented Camp; a stunning little boutique resort tucked away by forest-clad limestone cliffs. Here, you’ll be greeted by the familiar rumble in the jungle that signifies the close proximity of elephants.

Not only is there plenty of elephant interaction here, but the resort also offers exciting wildlife tours into the jungles by canoe and trekking through forests on foot to spot cheeky monkeys and colourful birdlife, plus there’s the Rainforest Floating Camp to tempt you to swim on the emerald waters of the lake after your enthralling animal encounters.

Botswana

4.Botswana is a country of incredible biodiversity and no experience typifies this more than a breathtaking Belmond Luxury Fly-In Safari.  The best way to witness this vast landscape is to fly-in by light aircraft until you arrive at Chobe National Park.

Here, prepare yourself to see one of the highest concentrations of elephants to be found anywhere on the planet. You’ll arrive at your camp on the banks of the Savute Channel, a dry river bank region that is famed for its lions and herds of elephants (up to forty or so in number).

If you desire more wildlife then continue your African adventure safari adventure further into the Okavango Delta. Expect to see more African Bush Elephants, cheetah, leopards, giraffe, white and black rhinoceros, zebra, hyena, wildebeest, crocodiles and springboks galore.

5. Wish to see elephants roaming by your resort? Head to Kenya and the Elephant Bedroom Camp Fly-In Safari located on the banks of the Ewaso Nyiro River in Samburu National Park. Sleeping in luxury safari tents equipped with all modern conveniences, you’ll be thrilled by the wildlife you spot on game drives, including reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx and the long-necked gerenuk antelope.

But possibly the greatest animal encounters you’ll experience will be overlooking your camp perched on the river that plays hosts to many animals who visit the area and even cross the river. Elephants, monkey and impalas are regular visitors, dropping by when least expected, sending you scurrying for your camera.

This boutique camp offers luxurious and comfortable accommodation with unparalleled service and fine cuisine within a natural, wild environment. Dinners under the stars complete the enigmatic experience – and of course, those elephants, bellowing away in the night, will be your constant companions.

India

Elephants in Kerala

6. India has a long association with the elephant, present in almost every aspect of their society from kaleidoscopic parades to fashionable weddings. These sacred animals are said to symbolise good luck and prosperity, which is why they are present at so many public ceremonies and events.

If you’re planning a visit to India and wish to get a glimpse of these beautiful beasts, chances are you’ll pass them as you journey through the countryside and towns, villages, and cities. For a prime view, however, I suggest you combine your India wish-list with that other great adventure, a Kerala Houseboat Tour.

Your journey will take you by the peaceful backwaters of Kerala through serene countryside, tea plantations and also to visit the dense forests of Periyar National Park where elephants and other animals roam wild by the banks of the lake. In a country of constant surprises, add elephant encounters to a growing list of amazing experiences.

Elephants gathering in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka

7. You’ll want to visit Sri Lanka for many reasons. Let’s see, the food is absolutely divine, prepare to put on weight here, the people are talkative and good-humoured, the history and heritage is both fascinating and spiritually uplifting – plus the scenery, from tea plantation to golden sand beaches is the stuff of holiday dreams.

When you factor in the amazing wildlife encounters, you realise that Sri Lanka is a country that offers so much on so many different levels – and of course, there are elephants here, lots and lots of elephants.

I suggest you head over to Udawalawe National Park, take one of their incredible safari tours to spot leopards, buffalo, Ceylon Spotted Deer, Crested Serpent Eagles, and Mugger Crocodiles. And of course elephants – you’ll find herds roaming free across the landscape here.

baby elephant

Wherever you travel to see elephants I really do hope you’ll be as transfixed and touched as I was by the experience – but whatever you do, don’t forget to press record on your camera. For more amazing animal encounters check out our safari holiday pages or visit our holiday types pages for further inspiration.

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Seven Tempting Reasons to visit Malaysia’s Langkawi archipelago

Travellers with an appreciation for stunning visuals and rarely-seen creatures will be enchanted by Langkawi. The Malaysian archipelago is a tantalizing mix of vertiginous mountains, waterfalls, untouched rainforests, karstic isles, coral reefs and mangroves inhabited by eagles, monkeys and other fascinating wildlife.

The 100-or-so islands in the calm jade waters of the Andaman Sea were designated as south-east Asia’s first ever UNESCO Geopark for the unique geology and tropical geoforests that account for much of their ethereal beauty. Close to the border with Thailand, they share the strange topography and silken beaches of much-photographed Thai islands like Ko Phi Phi. But Langkawi is generally less visited and offers some great opportunities to go off grid.

Langkawi, Malaysia

Far from undeveloped, the eponymous Palau Langkawi (Palau is Malay for island) has an airport and pockets of modern civilization dotted around the coast where you can find everything from free internet access and a cold beer to local eco-tour operators and an aquarium. But the island is large – about the same size as Singapore – and vast swathes of wildlife-rich jungle and mangroves remain undisturbed, life in the local kampungs continues as it has done for centuries, and there has been a marine park protecting the coral reefs around Payar for more than thirty years.

If you’re wondering where to go on your next tropical break, here are seven tempting reasons to choose Langkawi

Tropical wonderland

  1. Desert island-hopping

    Desert island-hopping in Langkawi

    Travellers with an appetite for discovery will be seriously tempted by the uninhabited karstic islets that speckle the ocean to the east and south of Langkawi’s main island. Only two of the archipelago’s 100 islands – Langkawi and Tuba – are inhabited, so there are plenty of chances to play castaway.

    Local tour operators offer scheduled boat trips island-hopping in Dayang Bunting Marble Park, which is made up of untouched islands draped in foliage and embellished with platinum ribbons of sand. From the rock tower of Singa Kechil to the ship-shaped Jong, the string of islands come in all shapes and sizes with towering cliffs and rocky shelves etched out by millennia of wind and waves.

    Desert island-hopping in Langkawi

    The flagstone-like platforms linking the green humped hills of Ular give the island the appearance of a beaded bracelet, while the park’s central island – Dayang Bunting – is blessed with Langkawi’s largest freshwater lake known as the “Lake of the Pregnant Maiden.” Formed by the collapse of a limestone cavern and separated from the sea by a narrow rock wall, here you can stop to swim in the clear waters surrounded by serene emerald hills said to resemble a pregnant woman lying down.

  2. Natural playgrounds

    Natural playgrounds in Langkawi, Malaysia

    Most of the attractions are natural in this UNESCO-protected geopark with caves, mangroves, mountains and waterfalls that are a virtual playground if you enjoy the great outdoors. The islands’ ancient mix of sedimentary and granite rock formations are unique according to geologists. But you don’t have to be a rock specialist or naturalist to appreciate the dramatic and distinct beauty of the islands known as the Jewel of Kedah.

    A trio of protected areas – Kilim Karst Geoforest Park in the east, Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park in the north-west and Dayang Bunting Marble Geoforest Park in the south – form the cornerstones of the UNESCO site. All the areas contain information points and can be explored on guided tours, usually by boat, but also on foot via hiking trails.

    Natural playgrounds in Langkawi, Malaysia

    Kayaking through the coastal mangroves, tunnels and waterways is one of the best ways to see Kilim Geopark’s karstic scarps, islets, lagoons and caves draped in thick rainforest. Kilim River is lined with mangroves, jutting angular rocks like hastily-stacked blocks, and melting pinnacles with the appearance of petrified candle wax.

    Among its natural wonders, bat-haunted caves with weird interiors are open to visitors and tunnels cut through the cliffs such as Gua Buaya can be traversed at low tide. Another tunnel, Gua Langsir, opens into a spectacular lagoon encircled with plant-entangled cliffs, while offshore Langgun contains a beautiful hidden freshwater sinkhole. Ancient oyster and gastropod-encrusted Anak Tikus is an islet perfect for fossil hunters.

    Natural playgrounds in Langkawi, Malaysia

    The Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park covers the oldest part of the island, home to tall tumbling waterfalls such as “Telaga Tujuh” (Seven Wells), gentle green slopes and vertical stacks showing off the layers of sandstone and mudstone strata that are often mistaken for limestone. Visitors can venture up to its top tiers via Panorama Langkawi that includes cable cars and a sky bridge across the mountaintops.

  3. Eagles and monkeys

    Eagle in Langkawi

    A rare sight elsewhere, eagles are quite common in Langkawi where lofty verdant peaks and rich mangroves make the perfect flying and feeding ground. The reddish-brown eagle known as the brahminy kite has become the islands’ emblem, and larger white-bellied sea eagles are also commonplace. Almost 1,000 wild eagles are said to feed at Kilim River in Kilim Geopark and at Singa Besar just south of the main island. Local operators run specific boat excursions to witness the eagles feeding and some bait the birds by throwing chicken skins into the water. A few island-hopping tours include eagle-watching on their itineraries. There are also eco-tours with a more environmentally-sensitive approach to eagle spotting and viewing.

    Monkey staring at us in Langkawi

    Kilim River is also a good place to spot monkeys perched on the banks or in the trees, but you are just as likely to see troops strolling around the island. A rainforest immersion tour or walk with a naturalist guide in the north of the island reveals all manner of primates, exotic birds such as hornbills, and lizards. Shy dusky leaf monkeys are less easy to glimpse than the local macaques, who have a reputation for making their presence known.

  4. Paradise beaches

    Paradise beaches in Langkawi, Malaysia

    The word Langkawi is said to have derived from the Malay for tropical paradise, and it definitely has the beaches to back up that name. The vast swathe of floury white sand at Tanjung Rhu is the ideal spot for a swim with a picturesque backdrop of rainforest-entangled cliffs. Datai Bay is also known for its scenic beauty, though the beach facilities are exclusive to guests at the two five-star hotels that overlook the bay.

    The crescent beach of Pantai Cenang in the south is the island’s busiest but it’s beautiful none-the-less with just a few colourful buildings visible behind the bank of palm trees. Nearby, the boundless sand of Pantai Tengah is quieter. The beach at Pantai Kok slightly further north probably wins the prize for best backdrop in the spectacular form of Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park.

    Paradise beaches in Langkawi, Malaysia

    Away from the main island, the isles of Pulau Payar Marine Park are indented with some spectacularly scenic beaches that can be reached in an hour by speed boat from Kuah jetty. As a protected marine park, the islets harbour a paradise below the waves too, with colourful coral gardens ideal for snorkelling.

  5. Spas, yoga retreats and seriously beautiful resorts

    Serene settings in Langkawi, perfect for Yoga

    There are around 200 hotels and resorts in Langkawi ranging from basic budget places to five-star spa boutiques, with most concentrated in Pantai Cenang. Seriously luxurious spas and hotels include the Datai Langkawi with its on-site Mandara Spa and the Andaman with its ocean-facing treetop spa. Both five-star resorts are hidden between the trees above the sweeping sands of Datai Bay.

    The Four Seasons Langkawi Resort boasts the gorgeous Geo Spa tucked inside the forest with pools under cliff faces and bespoke natural treatments. The resort itself has bagged one of the island’s most stunning spots beside the idyllic Tanjung Rhu beach with tracts of ancient rainforest covering the surrounding hills.

    Serene settings in Langkawi, perfect for Yoga

    But you don’t have to visit a swanky resort to indulge yourself. Independent places such as Ishan Spa on a verdant hillside in Pantai Tengah offer a beautifully-relaxing and peaceful environment with expert masseurs and beauty therapists. The serene surrounds of Langkawi are also ideal for a yoga retreat. Ambong Ambong in Pantai Tengah offers short programs combining yoga and discovering Langkawi with a local naturalist guide.

  6. Underwater gardens

    Underwater gardens in Langkawi, Malaysia

    Snorkellers and divers can gain access to a magical underwater world from Langkawi. Boat tours providing snorkelling gear depart from the Kuah marina to the pristine reefs and crystal-clear waters of the archipelago’s marine parks. PADI-accredited dive centre Langkawi Scuba in Cenang runs trips out to dive the Pulau Payar Marine Park, the region’s oldest protected area said to harbour the richest diversity of marine life and colourful soft corals on Malaysia’s western seaboard.

    Underwater gardens in Langkawi, Malaysia

    The uninhabited jade-green islands of the park – Payar, Segantang, Lembu and Kaca – are 30km south-east of Langkawi and the top dive sites are scattered along the reef system that skirts the south, east and west of Payar island, including the Coral Garden, Lobster Garden, Porite Garden and Raaf Beach. Frequently-sighted sea creatures include fusiliers, jacks, black-tip reef sharks, barracudas, groupers, damselfish, lionfish, lobsters and moray eels.

  7. Jaw-dropping views

    View from Panorama Langkawi

    Panorama Langkawi makes the most of Machincang mountain’s wondrous views across slopes swathed in dense rainforests to the brilliant blue Andaman Sea and distant emerald-drop isles. Part of Machincang Cambrian Geoforest Park, known for its uber-ancient rock formations, the cable cars take you to the scalloped peaks sculpted over a period of 550 million years and link up with an elegant suspended sky bridge and angled viewing platforms. Go up just before dusk for an unforgettable sunset.

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Holiday Packing Tips – Essential Items to Pack on Your Travels

One of the many benefits of a self catering UK holiday is the freedom to pack whatever – and however much – you want to bring. That being said, packing for the whole family can result in a mountain of luggage, which doesn’t make for a very relaxing holiday.

Prepare for a wonderful family break in one of our superb family cottages with these helpful packing tips.

Entertainment

A selection of toys, books and games (including outdoor equipment like a Frisbee, football and tennis) is essential, not just for kids but for grown-ups too. A few good DVDs can be a Godsend and a portable DVD player or laptop, if you have one, might be worth bringing to avoid arguments about who’s watching what!

Books are a great way to keep children absorbed for hours, and it’ll give you the chance to bury your nose in that novel you’ve been meaning to read too! The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is a fun and engaging way to encourage your children wanting to read on their own.

Clothes

Pack sufficient changes of clothes for the trip plus a few spares, or instead check whether your accommodation has washing facilities if you don’t mind doing a bit of laundry while on holiday. Also, make sure that you pack for all weather – throw in wellies and rain coats as well as sun hats and glasses.

For the ultimate in comfort and style, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better one-stop-shop than Crewe Clothing Co. Their stylish yet practical range makes dressing the whole family simple.

Toiletries

Travel-sized items are a great way of saving space. Pack sun lotion even if you think you won’t need it as the weather can be very unpredictable! A small family first aid kit, including items such as adult and child painkillers, plasters, antiseptic cream and a thermometer, is a useful addition.

If you’d like to indulge with a special holiday treat, Molten Brown’s travel selection of toiletries makes a great addition to Mum’s suitcase!

Food

Apart from a supply of snacks and drinks for the journey and a few things to tide you over on arrival, it’s probably best to leave food shopping until you arrive at your destination. Even better, use a grocery delivery service such as The Organic Fresh Food Company and have your shopping delivered to the cottage door.

For babies

If you’re travelling with infants, check what equipment your accommodation might supply such as cots, stair gates and highchairs. Don’t forget essentials like a baby monitor, portable blackout blinds, spare dummies, potty, swim nappies and arm bands.

Finally, take anything that you think is vital in order for your children to enjoy their stay away from home, be it a special blanket or pillow, a favourite cup or a treasured teddy. Kiddicare sell a wonderful range of travel accessories for babies.

Now that you feel prepared for packing, take a look at our family friendly cottages and find the perfect cottage for you.

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THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND depends exactly where you’re going. The islands on one side of the country have a slightly different rainy season to those on the other; the good news is that this extends Thailand’s dry, sunny season. So if it’s rainy and grey in one place, it’s a short hop over the coast to sunshine on the other side.

Basically, December to March are the best months to go to Thailand – though as with any tropical destination, a short and ridiculously torrential burst of rain is unpredictably possible, even on the sunniest of days.

The Thai islands in the Gulf of Thailand – KOH SAMUI, KOH PHANGAN, KOH TAO – tend to get less rain than the rest of the country (even in rainy season), and are at their best from the end of January until mid March. January is the freshest month – great for after the Christmas and NYE party chaos. February is the driest month, one of the sunniest, and the heat still bearable; and March is sunny and dry, too.

Over on Thailand’s west coast and the Andaman Sea – where you’ll find the Thai islands of PHUKET, KRABI, KOH LANTA, KOH PHI PHI -the optimum time for a beach holiday is slightly earlier, in December and January, when fresher weather, maximum sunshine and minimum rainfall combine to create the best climate for a beach holiday.

BANGKOK, meanwhile, is stultifyingly humid practically all the time (discomfort levels range from ‘high’ to ‘extreme’ year-round), but the best time to visit Thailand’s capital is December and January, when it is dry and a relatively bearable 31-32ºC average during the day, and 20ºC at night (the coolest Bangkok ever gets). When not to go to Bangkok: avoid the months of April and September. April is unbearably hot and humid; September is hot, humid and torrentially wet.

CHIANG MAI and the lovely little town of PAI, in Thailand’s cooler north, have much more pleasant climates than Bangkok and the south. Go from December to February for lovely sunny days (around 29ºC) and cooler evenings (the temperature dips to 13ºC – and even lower in the highlands, so dig out some warm clothes if you’re trekking).

The time to not go to Thailand is the rainy season, from May to October, when monsoons blow in from all directions.

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Best Top 5 Beach Breaks in Europe

  • 1- La Graviere, Hossegor

The surf town of Hossegor on the south western corner of France’s Atlantic coast boasts one of the best surf spots for the whole of Europe.  La Graviere is the wave that attracts thousands of spectators, and a handful of surfers every year to witness the Quiksilver Pro France ASP contest take place every September.  Whether you just watch the Pros out in the water whilst enjoying a coffee and a croissant, or find another surf spot close by to surf, Hossegor is a youthful and fun town to visit for your trips.

  • 2- Supertubos, Peniche


Lying close to the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, Peniche is a perfect surf destination if you’re wanting to try out some beginner beach breaks, and then get inspired to improve by Supertubos.  This wave is beautiful, holding stunning barrels, especially when the Atlantic sends larger swells.  Visit Peniche and Supertubos towards the end of October when the Rip Curl Pro Peniche contest is held, and see the ASP surfers backlight and ripping in the waves.

  • 3- El Cotillo, Fuerteventura

For when you’re feeling like you need a combination of a super lazy beach holiday, but with some added fun waves, head to El Cotillo in Fuerteventura.  The volcanic beach break with its mink coloured sand is a lot of fun to play in, providing punchy waves that will have you up and riding in no time.  Team your holiday with a  or lessons to get the most out of your time in the beautiful azul waves.

  • 4- Foz do Lizandro, Ericeira


If you are looking for an easy holiday combined with culture and unspoiled stunning coastlines, then Ericeira is for you. Ericeira has already been awarded the title of World Reserve, so it is little wonder that the beaches are stunning and the surrounding landscape is beautiful.  Foz do Lizandro beach break is ideal for looking to learn or improve on their technique, especially as it is only 5 minutes away from the town centre- perfect for rewarding yourself with a delicious post meal.

  • 5- Zarautz, Basque Country


Zarautz is one of the better known beach breaks of Europe, and for good reason, it has one of the longest beaches in the Basque country.  The beach break is very consistent, and offers left and right waves almost regardless of the swell direction hitting the coastline, so is ideal for Compare travel market holidays where you want to surf every day.  For when you fancy a moment away from surfing, Zarautz is perfectly located for day trips to San Sebastian, Bilbao, Mundaka, and even Hossegor in France.

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Why do holiday cottages have so many rules?

When I was growing up, there was a family tradition that, in our late teens, we all took summer jobs as chambermaids at London hotels. My four elder sisters willingly, indeed joyfully, skivvied by day in order to be slap-bang in the centre of the West End at night.

I, however, loathe (and I mean loathe) cleaning my own mess, let alone someone else’s. Call me a princess, call me a slattern, but in my book a holiday that involves a Hoover ain’t no holiday. My idea of bliss is a country cottage, sunny walled garden, relaxing meals alfresco. Relaxing, that is, until on the last evening, my husband thrusts into my hand a To Do list of Domestic Diktats, drawn up by the owner, that must be completed before departure at the ungodly hour of 10am the next morning.

cornish-holiday-cottages-002

Am I the only one to experience a wave of indignation when I encounter fussy instructions to scrub the grate and polish the kettle and re-alphabetise the DVDs? To me these are less a “courtesy” and more a brutal, premature and unreasonable return to reality. Cue the inevitable ill-tempered exchange of words with my spouse, who never does a hand’s turn at home, but suddenly, irritatingly, starts taking someone else’s housework very seriously indeed.

And so he begins barking at everyone to shift themselves and start pulling their weight. But the thing is, I am truculently unwilling to shift myself or my weight, because I don’t want to spend the final, precious hours of my holiday wielding Marigolds and a spray bottle of oven cleaner. I want to fritter them away with a final glass of wine on the patio, to the soundtrack of tinkling laughter, not listening to him, muttering dog’s abuse as he shoves the three-year-old up the chimney with a loo brush and orders the 10-year-old to drag 15 bags of beer cans to the recycling bin half a mile up the lane.

Now, I may be lazy, but I’m not a hypocrite. I’ve never been one of those women who insists on cleaning her own home from top to bottom before we go off on a break, which is possibly why I feel so resentful about having to clean someone else’s when I’m about to leave it.

Unfortunately, some owners seem to lose sight of the fact that guests are just that: guests. One year we went to a house in the north of Scotland that was perfect in every way – apart from the 13‑point list of bossy orders.

1. Strip the beds and bring linen and towels down to the back door.

2. Clean baths, basins and loos.

3. Wipe out the fridge, match the pots and pans with their lids.

4. Empty various bins into other bins.

5. Tidy the garden, retile the scullery, paint the eaves, drain and clean the septic tank with a toothbrush…

I exaggerate, but only just. The truth is that having paid £900 for a week, I do not want to to vacuum the dining room free of charge. Of course I will always ensure a rental property is tidy and respectable, but sorry, scrubbing the shower really isn’t my job. If it were, we wouldn’t be turfed out so early for the cleaner (the clue is in the title) to make the accommodation ready for the next arrivals, would we?

Nor does the argument that cleaning the cottage ourselves keeps the cost down cut any ice with me. Come midnight on Friday, when my husband is still stomping about, sterilising the breadboard and returning the freezer to its factory settings, I would happily write a blank cheque just to make it (and by that stage, him) go away.

So here’s the thing, landlords of Britain and beyond. I don’t care if I have pay a bit extra. Or indeed, a lot extra. I don’t care if I have to pay double or sign away my pension rights and hand over my first born. Charge me. Charge me like an angry bull, if you like.

I would just like it if summer’s final holiday memory wasn’t me arguing with my husband over your mop and bucket. Again.

 

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Holidays in Essex

Holidays in Essex

Essex Holidays

Think of Essex and it’s highly likely that the TV series ‘The Only Way is Essex’ will spring to mind. But there is a lot more to Essex than meets the eye. Medieval villages dot the countryside that inspired Constable to paint his masterpieces, and the towns, cities and coastline offer something for everyone to enjoy on a holiday to Essex.

Things to do in Essex

coopers-beach_1

The city of Colchester claims to be the oldest recorded city in Britain with evidence of settlement on the spot as far back as the 5th century BC. The Normans built Colchester Castle, which still stands today, and visitors can see the county prison, Celtic Round House and the castle’s museum. While in Colchester the kids will want to visit the zoo, or follow the trail through the wood at Beth Chatto Gardens and High Woods Country Park.

There are many small towns and villages worth discovering on an Essex holiday. Manning Tree is the smallest town in England, while the beautiful River Colne runs through Wivenhoe and West Mersea. Enjoy the fresh sea air on the promenade at Frinton-on-the-Sea and have fun on the pier at Clacton-on-Sea.

Southend-on-Sea is a coastal resort for Londoners wanting to escape for the weekend. With a mix of sandy beaches, amusement arcades, nightclubs, fish and chips and ice creams on the pier it certainly caters to the young and old, as well as families and young adults. Its pier at 1.33 miles long is impressive and happens to be the world’s longest.

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Adventure Island in Essex’s Southend-on-Sea is an amusement park next to the pier, and there’s also Sealife Adventure Aquarium to keep the kids happy. For something a little more upmarket head to Clarence Yard, a wine bar housed in a 19th century stables and bakery with a courtyard.

When to go: A UK break to Essex is ideal in Spring or Summer, when the gardens and wildlife start to blossom and bloom, and the nights are warmer.

Top Attraction: Essex is well renowned for its nightlife.  The county town of Chelmsford boasts a number of pubs and clubs to promise a truly eye-opening night out, any day of the week!

Why Compare travel Market holidays?: For a great value UK break to Essex choose Compare travel market holidays. Whether you decide to base yourself in an historic town or by the seaside Compare travel market holidays offer flexibility on the length of stay so you get the holiday that you want.

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Holidays in Derbyshire

Holidays in Derbyshire

Derbyshire Holidays

With a stunning countryside of wild moors, green hills, grey-stone villages and remote farmland, Derbyshire is the ideal place to escape from city life and have a relaxing holiday, walking, cycling, sightseeing and simply enjoying the fresh air.

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Other beautiful counties surround Derbyshire. To the north is Yorkshire, while Nottingham and Staffordshire flank it to the east and west. Part of Derbyshire falls within the Peak District National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the whole of Europe, and it’s easy to see why, with its wild and beautiful landscape dotted with picturesque villages.

Things to do in Debryshire

The High Peak area of Derbyshire has Buxton in its midst. The Romans called the town Aquae Arnmetiae due to its warm springs, and Buxton remains popular with visitors to this day. 500 square miles of national park surround the town, amongst which lies Castleton, overlooked by Man Tor. See the Norman ruin of Peveril Castle or go underground to the Treak Cliff Cavern, which showcases Blue John, a mineral only found in Castleton.

Alfreton, once a coal mining town, is in the Amber Valley area of Derbyshire, and has plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants. The historic town of Ripley has the Midland Railway heritage museum to visit, plus pottery tours and a factory shop at Denby Visitor Centre. Belper is a market town in the Derwent Valley. Stroll around the peaceful Belper River Gardens before exploring the town’s shops and restaurants.

The beautiful market town of Bakewell goes back to Saxon times. The town’s church dates back to 920AD, and the River Wye runs through it. Take a look at the Old House Museum and the Old Town Hall. Near to Bakewell is Haddon Hall, an 800 year-old mansion house featuring medieval and Tudor architecture and gardens.

Hathersage in the Hope Valley area is a great base for walkers and climbers as it’s near Stanage Edge. The Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve with its five limestone valleys all within the Peak District National Park is a great place to go walking. Getting outdoors is really what a holiday to Derbyshire is all about.     –

  • Top Attraction Chatsworth House, a 10-minute drive from Bakewell, is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been in the Cavendish family for 16 generations. With 30 rooms to explore including State Rooms, richly furnished bedrooms and a sculpture gallery, it is worth spending a whole day there.
  • When to go: A holiday to Derbyshire is all about getting outdoors and exploring the countryside. The landscape in spring and autumn is stunning, while summer is popular with families. Whatever the season go prepared and make sure to pack raincoats.
  • Why Comapretravemarket holidays: A holiday to Derbyshire, one of the UK’s most popular counties, doesn’t have to break the bank. For a flexible and affordable UK break surrounded by stunning countryside book your next holiday to Derbyshire with Comparetravelmarket holidays.
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Holidays in Bristol

Holidays in Bristol

Experience Bristol Holidays your way

Along the River Avon lies Bristol, a dynamic, cosmopolitan city with centuries of heritage packed into its walls. This charming city has so much to offer with its lively arts and media community, energetic nightlife and beautiful sights to see.

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The ancient cathedral located in College Green is a fascinating structure, proudly displaying its striking Gothic features and quirky carvings. Bristol is renowned for its port based on the waterways of the River Avon and Frome, an area steeped in shipping history. Recently renovated, the harbour provides fine dining restaurants and relaxed cocktail bars. Head to prestigious Clifton to experience the breathtaking views of the river Avon atop its 245ft suspension bridge.

Nearby Bath provides a calming antidote to Bristol’s vivacious atmosphere, with its relaxing Roman baths and Georgian terraces creating a picturesque scene for the perfect day trip.

Indulge yourself in Bristol

Bristol boasts a diverse selection of restaurants, from traditional British pubs to modern bistros. Head to the harbour for relaxed dining with romantic views of the river or keep to the centre for an eclectic array of cuisines for reasonable prices. From curry houses to jazz cafes, all appetites and tastes are catered for. For the lively tourist, a host of different nightlife scenes are waiting to be experienced. You’ll find intimate gigs with a Bohemian feel as well as mainstream clubs to dance ‘til you drop.

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Bristol is known for its maritime roots, being one of the main transatlantic ports trafficking rum and tobacco. The harbour has retained its history, displayed at the Dockyard Museum adjacent to the SS Great Britain at Floating Harbour. Here you can discover Bristol’s long shipbuilding history and explore the background of the vessel built by Isambard Brunel in 1843.

The Arnolfini Arts Centre displays vibrant contemporary arts and hosts live music and dance performances. For French and British arts, visit the City Museum and Art Gallery, dedicated to ceramics and decorative arts. Here you can get your historical fix too as the ground floor hosts archaeological, geographical and natural history wings as well as the refurbished Egyptian gallery.

Bristol holidays made for you

Whether you’re looking for indulgent relaxation, vibrant nightlife or culture and history, a holiday to Bristol can cater to your every whim. Compare Travel market holidays provides great deals for flights and hotels and offer more savings when you book them at the same time. For flexible Bristol holiday options, book and save with comparetravelmarket holidays today.

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