Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Visiting York

York - The Capital of the North 

For a snapshot of English history, head straight for the city of York.

York Minster bed and breakfasts

The famous words of King George VI, who stated that 'the history of York is the history of England', still hold true today. Ask any of the city's modern day inhabitants and they will proudly tell you that if you 'walk a hundred yards in York and you don't look where you're going . you could miss a thousand years'. 

York was originally constructed as a fortress by the Romans, in 71 AD, and named Eboracum. This stronghold later became a city and was renamed Jorvik or Yorwik by the Vikings. But it was not until the Normans made their mark upon the city that York became one of Europe's most important centres of commerce, government, religion and communication. By the eighteenth century, the city of York was also recognised as a stylish resort, frequented by the well-heeled and genteel.

York, however, is not all about history. It is also one of the most exciting, forward looking cities in Britain. Of courses it oozes historic interest, wherever you happen to be in the city, from its famous landmarks to the myriad mediaeval streets (many named after ancient trades), with half-timbered overhanging houses and well-preserved Georgian architecture. Reminders of the past are everywhere.  But this is history with a twist; this is not the yawn-inducing type of history so coveted by culture vultures. York, like no other city in Britain, has somehow managed to make history come alive with a fascinating blend of old and new that attracts visitors in their droves from around the world. Even shopaholics cannot escape the grim realities of York's notorious past, for that bastion of British lifestyle, Marks & Spencer, now stands on the spot where public executions once took place!  

If you only have time for a whistle-top tour of York, make sure that you visit York Minster, first. The largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, York Minster is also the largest mediaeval edifice in Britain. It took over 250 years to build and was finally completed in 1475. Stained glass enthusiasts will have a feast day, as the Minster has the largest area of mediaeval stained glass, in the world. A visit to the Central Tower is a must, if only to get your bearings. This is not an easy climb, but the panoramic views of the city, from the top, make it well worth the effort. 

Other must-see-and-dos in York:


Jorvik Viking Centre (Coppergate): Step back in history, to a reconstruction of life in Viking times. Experience the unforgettable sights, sounds (and smells!) of a typical alley way in York, under Viking rule. The reconstruction is based on archaeological findings unearthed at Coppergate, the current site of the Jorvik Viking Centre.


National Railway Museum (Leeman Road): The largest collection of railway exhibits in the world, the National Railway Museum covers everything from Stephenson's famous 'Rocket' to modern day Eurostar. 

National Railway Museum York 

York Castle Museum (The Eye of York): Housed within the city's former prison (graffiti still extant!), York Castle Museum is one of the best museums depicting everyday life in Britain, throughout the ages. 

York Castle Museum 

York City Walls: Although fragments of the original Roman walls and ramparts still exist, the three-mile length of carefully preserved walls date back to mediaeval times. The walls encompass the city, with access via the famous 'Bars' or gateways.

York City Walls 

Clifford's Tower (Tower Street): Originally a wooden structure erected by William the Conqueror, Clifford's Tower was rebuilt during the reign of Henry III, in the thirteenth century, as a keep for York Castle. The original wooden tower was destroyed in 1190 when Jews who sought refuge in the city were burnt alive in a mass suicide pact, having refused to be baptised.

Cliffords Tower York 

York Dungeon (Clifford Street): Not for the faint-hearted, York Dungeon recaptures the grim realities of torture and punishment, including drowning, boiling, branding, and beheading, in centuries gone by - scarily realistic!


YorkRacecourse: York Racecourse is the third largest in the country and attracts 100’s of visitors year on year to their events.


The  Shambles - Visit one of the oldest shopping streets in Europe. 

Visit the Shambles Shopping in York


Finally, if sightseeing just seems like too much effort, why not hit the many specialist shops or relax in the attractive cafés, tea rooms, pubs and restaurants which York boasts in abundance. Tempting?


Find your York Bed and Breakfast or hotel and start exploring this wonderful area.



Posted by David Martin on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 03:57

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Explore the Scottish Borders - past and present!

Explore the Scottish Borders - past and present!


The beautiful Scottish Borders have a tale (or two) to tell. 

Who could imagine that in mediaeval times this 1,800 square mile expanse, from the Southern Uplands of Scotland to the Berwickshire coast, was once the site of many a bloody clash between the marauding English and the determinedly defensive Scots?

Holy Island Bed and Breakfast


Image of Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Berwick upon Tweed


Today, the tranquil, undulating landscapes of the Scottish Borders belie the region's turbulent and brutal past. Yet, history tells a different tale - one of grim Anglo-Scottish conflict. These were times when the English tried to encroach upon the Borders of Scotland and when the feisty Scots, predictably, rose to the challenge and refused to take things lying down. 

And let's make no bones about it (no pun intended), some of the modern inhabitants of the Scottish Borders aren't too keen to forgive and forget either! But nowadays, it's all about fun and friendly jest, celebration and national spirit, as well as welcoming visitors in search of more peaceful pursuits! Passions, for instance, run high at English/Scottish rugby matches, when the blue and white crossed flag of Scotland reigns supreme over the Union Jack. The popular annual pageant called Common Ridings is another example of national pride, when local inhabitants gather to 'patrol' their territory against 'cattle thieves' (or 'reivers') from across the border, as they did in days of old. This enactment, of course, is always perfectly amicable and a great spectator attraction for all concerned. 

But why not find out for yourself what the area has to offer. Next time you fancy a break, head for the Scottish Borders and enjoy some of the local colour; base yourself in one of the many peaceful B&Bs dotted throughout the region. Start by delving deeper into the Borders' colourful past and explore some of its famous historic landmarks. Evidence is everywhere, with fortified houses, castles and mediaeval abbey ruins all hinting at more tempestuous times. For a real flavour of the past, visit the ruins of the four great mediaeval abbeys: Melrose Abbey, Kelso Abbey, Jedburgh Abbey and Dryburgh Abbey, all located within a small radius of one another. Each bears the scars of former warfare. Much of the church of Dryburgh Abbey, for example, was destroyed during borderland skirmishes, although its cloisters and living quarters are amazingly well-preserved. Then, there's the foreboding fortress, Hermitage Castle (on the B6399, south of Hawick), where Mary Queen of Scots is supposed to have galloped on horseback to see her wounded lover, the Earl of Boswell.

In complete contrast, one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the Scottish Borders is to take the circular literary tour that starts from the seventeenth century spa town of Moffat (by the A701) and then follows along the Tweed Valley.  This tour takes in some of the most stunning landscapes of the Scottish Borders, while examining the region's connections with literary greats such as John Buchan (1875 to 1940), Sir Walter Scott (1771 to 1832), William Wordsworth (1770 to 1850) and James Hogg (1770 to 1835). Here we have the hills and rivers immortalised in literature by these famous poets and novelists. Immerse yourself in the scenic feast that fired the imagination of some of Britain's greatest writers. 

Perhaps, however, you simply want to let sleeping dogs lie and prefer to put history to bed. If all you want to do is enjoy what the 21st century Scottish Borders have to offer, then you will not be disappointed. Activities with a contemporary slant include golfing, hiking, cycling and fishing. The Borders are also well-known for their quality woollen and textile products. Check out the mills that have factory outlet shops, in towns such as Peebles, Hawick and Selkirk; pick up a bargain.

All in all, the Scottish Borders make a great place to visit for those who wish to escape to the countryside for a guaranteed relaxing break. So, just chill out and take in the wonderful scenery of this increasingly popular tourist destination.

Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 12 January 2017 03:15

Thursday, 1 December 2016

World Aids Day

1st Dec is World AIDS Day, and is an opportunity to be inspired to respect and protect the health and wellbeing of ourselves and those around us through knowledge, action and consideration.

World Aids Day 

The number of people living with HIV in the UK has trebled in the last 10 years.


NAT is the UK's leading charity dedicated to transforming society's response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.


Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.


Our vision is world in which people living with HIV are treated as equal citizens with respect, dignity and justice, are diagnosed early and receive the highest standards of care, and in which everyone knows how and is able to protect themselves from HIV infection.


HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system - the body's defence against diseases. The latest research suggests that between 70 and 90 per cent of people may experience symptoms of infection a few days after having been infected. Three symptoms occurring together: fever, rash and a severe sore throat should always be considered a potential indicator of HIV infection. These symptoms usually disappear within two or three weeks. Other people may not have symptoms to start with. In all cases, without effective treatment the immune system will eventually become very weak and no longer be able to fight off illnesses.


Are HIV and AIDS the same?

No. When someone is described as living with HIV, they have the HIV virus in their body. A person is considered to have developed AIDS when the immune system is so weak it can no longer fight off a range of diseases with which it would normally cope.


I don't know anyone with HIV... do I?

There are approximately 80,000 people living with HIV in the UK and about a third of these don't know that they are infected. The epidemic is still growing in the UK with around 7,000 new diagnoses every year. Even if someone you know is living with HIV, they may not feel able to tell you.


Is there a cure for HIV?

No, but treatment can keep the virus under control and the immune system healthy. People on HIV treatment can live a healthy, active life, although they may experience side effects from the treatment. If HIV is diagnosed late, treatment may be less effective in preventing AIDS.


What's it like living with HIV?

If people with HIV are diagnosed early and respond to treatment they can be healthy, work and have relationships like anyone else and have a long life expectancy.


Coming to terms with an HIV diagnosis and getting used to treatment can be very difficult however, and people living with HIV will often need support from healthcare providers, friends and family, employers and support organisations.


Why do people find it hard to tell others they are HIV positive?

People living with HIV may find it hard to tell others about their condition as they worry that people will reject them, or they will experience prejudice from friends, family and colleagues. People living with HIV can also experience discrimination in their workplace, in healthcare settings (e.g., GPs and dentists), from members of their local community and through the media.


HIV prejudice is often the result of ignorance about how HIV is passed on and unfounded fear of becoming infected. Encouraging those around us to talk about HIV and find out the facts can help overcome this.



Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 1 December 2016 02:53

Monday, 14 November 2016

UK Christmas Markets Guide

Christmas Market Guide for the UK.

hyde park B&B 

Christmas is such a magical time of the year, made even more festive by the amazing selection of Christmas Markets that happen all over the UK.


We’ve put together a comprehensive list of all of the Christmas Markets happening in the UK, and some useful links to find a Hotel or Bed and Breakfasts so you can enjoy the Gluhwein or two!


Why not take this opportunity to have a little city break with family or friends, and enjoy all the festivities and perhaps get some Christmas shopping in at the same time.


Below is a list of all the dates for around the UK -




Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park – 18th November 2016 – 2nd January

Winter Wonderland B&B 

Christmas in Leicester Square – 11th November 2016 – 8th January


Kingston Christmas Market – 19th November – 31st December


Belgravia Christmas Market – 3rd December 2016 – 4th December


Taste of London Winter at Tobacco Dock – 17th November – 20th November


Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Tobacco Dock – 25th – 27th November


Tate Modern Christmas Market – 19th November - 23rd December


Winter Festival at Southbank Centre – 11th November – 25th January


Christmas by the River at London Bridge – 30th November – 3rd January


Christmas Fair at Chelsea Physic Garden – 26th November – 27th November


Greenwich Market at Christmas – 23 November – 24th December


Christmas at Camden Market – 17th November – 22nd December



London Bed and Breakfast & Hotels




Manchester Christmas Markets 10th November – 20 December


Manchester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Leeds Christkindlmarkt Traditional German Christmas Market – 11th November – 18th December


Leeds Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Glasgow Christmas Markets – 10th November – 29th December


Glasgow Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Bath Christmas Market – 24th November – 11th December


Bath Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Bath Christmas Market Bed and Breakfast



Edinburgh Christmas fair – 18th November – 7th January


Edinburgh Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Edinburgh B&Bs and Hotels



Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market – 18th November – 20th December


Winchester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Skipton Christmas Market – Sunday 4th December and Sunday 11th December


Skipton Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Exeter Christmas Market – 19th November – 18th December


Exeter Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market – 17th November – 29th December


Birmingham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Birmingham Frankfurt Christmas Market B&B

image © Birmingham City Council



Brighton Christmas Market – 18th – 24th December


Brighton Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Bristol Christmas Market – 11th Novmeber – 24 December


Bristol Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Oxford Christmas Market – 8th December – 18th December


Oxford Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Nottingham Christmas Market and Ice rink – 19th November – 24th December


Nottingham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre 24th – 27th Nov


Worcester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Chester Chrismtas Market – 18th Nov – 18th Dec


Chester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Bury St Edmunds


Bury St Edmunds Christmas fayre – 24-27th nov


Bury St Edmunds Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Chichester Christmas market – 3rd – 11th December


Chichester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Cheltenham Christmas Market – Nov 24th – Dec 17th


Cheltenham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




A Victoria Festival of Christmas in Portsmouth – 25th – 27th Nov


Portsmouth Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Lincoln Christmas Market – Dec 1 – 4th


Lincoln Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market – 17th – 20th Nov


Gloucester Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Harrogate Christmas Market – 17th Nov – 20th


Harrogate Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Newcastle upon Tyne


Newcastle Continental Christmas Market – 18th Nov – 11th Dec


Newcastle upon Tyne Bed and Breakfasts


St Albans


St Albans Christmas Market 24th Nov – 18th Dec


St Albans Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Llandudno Christmas Fayre – 17th Nov – 20th


Llandudno Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Chatsworth House


Chatsworth House Christmas Market – 12th Nov – 30th Nov


Bakewell Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




12th Nov – 23rd Dec Southampton Christmas Market


Southampton Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Ipswich Christmas Market – 9th – 11th December


Ipswich Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Salisbury Christmas Market – 24th Nov – 18th Dec


Salisbury Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels


Stoke on Trent


Stoke on Trent Christmas Market – 30th Nov – 24th December


Stoke on Trent Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Cardiff Christmas Market – 10th Nov – 23rd December


Cardiff Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Durham City Traditional Christmas Festival – 2nd – 4th December


Durham Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels




Bournemouth Christmas Market – 17th Nov – 31st December


Bournemouth Bed and Breakfasts & Hotels



For more help finding a place to stay, check out our Christmas Markets Quick link search


Have a great time enjoying all of the festivities!

Posted by David Martin on Monday, 14 November 2016 04:55

Friday, 4 November 2016

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day


The first World War ended in 1918 ...on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Civilians wanted to remember the people who had given their lives for peace and freedom. An American War Secretary, Moina Michael, inspired by John McCrae's poem, began selling poppies to friends to raise money for the ex-Service community. And so the tradition began.



In Flanders' Fields by John McCrae, 1915


In Flanders' fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high,

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders' Fields.



The first official Legion Poppy Day was held in Britain on 11 November 1921, inspired by the poem In Flanders' Fields written by John McCrae. Since then the Poppy Appeal has been a key annual event in the nation's calendar.


Some of the bloodiest fighting of World War One took place in the Flanders and Picardy regions of Belgium and Northern France. The poppy was the only thing which grew in the aftermath of the complete devastation. McCrae, a doctor serving there with the Canadian Armed Forces, deeply inspired and moved by what he saw, wrote the verses written above.



<a href='http://www.britishlegion.org.uk' target="_blank">The Royal British Legion</a>  is a charity that supports the serving and ex-Service community, and their families, as well as being one of the country's largest membership organisations. We are probably best-known for our role as the nation's custodian of Remembrance and for the Poppy Appeal which we organise annually


Poppy Support is the new name for all our welfare services. It is split into six categories: Poppy Advice, Poppy Funds, Poppy Breaks, Poppy Homes, Poppy Travel and Poppy People. Nearly 10.5 million people in the UK are eligible for our help, so if you or someone you know is serving, ex-Service or a dependant and in need, please call Legion online on 08457 725 725. We'd like to be able to help.


Show Your Support

There are many ways to support <a href='http://www.poppy.org.uk'/a>The Poppy Appeal </a> either individually or as a company. And now you can show your support digitally - by email, on your mobile and on <a href='http://apps.facebook.com/login.php'>Facebook</a> or call the Supporters helpline on 0845 854 1945

Charlie and Harry at the Remembrance service 

Posted by David Martin on Friday, 4 November 2016 01:21

Friday, 28 October 2016

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Bed and Breakfasts Guide


image courtesy of istock.com (artist name RomoloTavani )


Ever wondered how Halloween came about? Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).


The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom, and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.


To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.


By A.D. 43, Romans had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain.  The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of "bobbing" for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.



By the 800s, the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands. In the seventh century, Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 All Saints' Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs. It is widely believed today that the pope was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. The celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints' Day) and the night before it, the night of Samhain, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween. Even later, in A.D. 1000, the church would make November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the three celebrations, the eve of All Saints', All Saints', and All Souls', were called Hallowmas.


The American tradition of "trick-or-treating" probably dates back to the early All Souls' Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called "soul cakes" in return for their promise to pray for the family's dead relatives.


The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as "going a-souling" was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighbourhood and be given ale, food, and money.


The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter!

Posted by David Martin on Friday, 28 October 2016 11:24

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Warwickshire - The Heart of England

Situated in the Heart of England, Warwickshire is an unspoilt county with plenty of opportunities for great day trips or longer visits

 Kenilworth Castle

Below is few ideas for places yo visit on your next holiday to Warwickshire. 


Coughton Court

If you travel to Alcester, you will find the magnificent Coughton Court (pronounced Coat-un) which has been the home of the Throckmortons from Tudor times to present day. The magnificent central Gatehouse, built in 1530, and the Tudor courtyard are complemented by an Elizabethan Knot garden. There is a new one-and-a-half acre Flower Garden in the old walled garden by the lake and a Bog Garden plus river and lake walks.

The house has a fine collection of family portraits, furniture and memorabilia with close associations with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.


Ragley Hall

Built in 1680, Ragley is the family home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford and houses a superb collection of 18th century paintings, porcelain and furniture. Set in 27 acres of beautiful formal gardens and a Capability Brown park (400 acres of parkland), this elegant 17th century house contains a stunning mural by Graham Rust 'The Temptation' and also England's finest Baroque plasterwork dated 1750 by James Gibbs can be found in the Great Hall.

The Hall was used as a location for the BBC production of Scarlet Pimpernel. Ragley Hall is situated off the A48/A435, south of Stratford-upon-Avon, and is open from March 22nd until Sept 30th - OAP's £4.50


Stratford Upon Avon

Situated in the 16th century Shrieves House Barn in Sheep Street (in the centre of Stratford upon Avon), is a 'living museum' well worth a visit.  Theatrical settings depicting the history of this site, complete with all the sounds and even the smells of the past. It is an educational, yet fun attraction for all the family. From the glorious to the ghastly, the hilarious to the haunting, it is an experience like no other, and will live on in your mind long after your visit.

The Falstaffs Experience (in the Shrieves House Barn) is also believed to be one of the most haunted properties in Britain, and holds lantern lit Ghost Tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. For the more serious, fearless explorer, 'Midnight Vigils' are also held, where an experienced medium will help you explore the building by night. For more information, please call or visit the website.

New Place was the home which Shakespeare purchased in 1597 with his London earnings, and where he died in 1616. The original estate is now preserved as a picturesque garden space. Nash's House was originally owned by Shakespeare's granddaughter's first husband and the interior of the property reflects the style in which New Place is likely to have been furnished.

The Teddy Bear Museum in Greenhill Street, Stratford Upon Avon is open daily 0930-1730

Shakespeare's Birthplace Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeares Birthplace B&B

This is the childhood home of William Shakespeare which contains both original and replica artefacts depicting the house as Shakespeare would have known it as a child. During your visit from 2007 the housewife or her maid will introduce the family rooms furnished with original and replica items similar to those which would have adorned the property when Shakespeare was a boy. In the recreated glover's workshop a glover and his journeyman will be carrying out the trade of Shakespeare's father from over 400 years ago.


Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Shottery, (1 mile from Stratford-upon Avon) This was the childhood home of Shakespeare's wife and remained occupied by the Hathaway family until 1899. The beautiful thatched farmhouse contains many rare items of family furniture original to the house and the house itself is set in stunning grounds with quintessential English cottage garden, orchard, sculpture garden, romantic willow cabin and maze.


Mary Arden's House and the Shakespeare Countryside Museum, 3 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. This was the childhood home of Shakespeare's mother. From spring 2007 you can experience the Elizabethan pace of life and interact with the daily domestic routine of a working farm in Shakespeare's time. You can enjoy the rare breed farm animals, enjoy a flying display by Heart of England Falconry, children can dress up as an Edwardian or Tudor and much more. A great day out for all the family.


Hall's Croft, Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon. This is an elegant 17th Century House which belonged to Shakespeare's daughter Susannah and her eminent husband, Doctor John Hall. The house includes Doctor Hall's consulting room, an exhibition of early medicine and many elegant rooms with exquisite furnishings and paintings.


Stratford Butterfly Farm

Wander through a lush landscape of exotic foliage where over a thousand multi-coloured butterflies sip nectar from tropical blossoms. Stroll past bubbling streams and splashing waterfalls and feed the Koi Carp. In addition to the caterpillars, Stratford Butterfly Farm also has an amazing range of other animals. There is an insect room where weird and wonderful creepy crawlies reside. The braver amongst you may wander into Arachnoland, a spider and scorpion exhibit. The largest and most dangerous spiders from across the world can be found here including the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider and the Black Widow - all safely behind the glass thank goodness.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Royal Shakespeare Theatre Bed and Breakfasts

Situated on the banks of the river Avon in the heart of Stratford. Why not indulge in an evening of culture, pre booking recommended 



Charlecote Park

Take time out to discover the beautiful and tranquil setting of Charlecote Park, set alongside the Avon, amongst the Warwickshire countryside between Warwick and Stratford. This quintessential English park was home to the Lucy family for over seven centuries, the spacious parkland landscaped by 'Capability' Brown. The Tudor house known to both Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare, was lovingly updated in a rich early Victorian manner.  Wander through the formal gardens and visit the unspoilt Tudor Gatehouse. Visit the Kitchens and the shop in the Old Servants Hall to purchase a reminder of a relaxing day at a timeless English Park.

Baddesley Clinton

Beautiful Tudor timber framed building with a moat around it, and stunning Elizabethan interiors. 


Warwick Castle

Bursting to the towers with tales of treachery and torture, passion and power and above all, fascinating people, time and events, Warwick Castle is so much more than simply a castle. Experience preparations for battle in 'Kingmaker', feel the weight of a sword in 'Death or Glory', see the lavishly decorated State Rooms and watch as a household prepares for a Victorian party in 'A Royal Weekend Party', discover how electricity was generated in the Mill and Engine House and explore 60 acres of grounds and gardens. 

Throughout the year there is a fantastic programme of events including jousting tournaments and the world's largest seige machine in action.

Accessibility: Access to the Castle is limited - April - Sept: 10am - 6pm

Oct - March: 10am - 5pm


If you are interested in dolls, then a visit to the Warwick Doll museum in Oken's House, Castle Street Warwick, is a must.



Based in the heart of Warwickshire, Hatton Country World consists of two side by side attractions - Hatton Shopping Village and Hatton Farm Village. Hatton Farm Village is a fun-packed paradise for children and adults, with a unique mix of animals, adventure and all-out activity.


Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth Bed and Breakfast

Constructed between Norman and Tudor times the castle ruins are well worth a visit.


Leamington Spa

Discover beautiful Regency architecture in this stunning town in Warwickshire. There is so much to see and do in Leamington with shops, bars and restaurants in abundance so you wont be disappointed. 

Posted by David Martin on Tuesday, 11 October 2016 01:53

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Ski Breaks in Scotland

You don’t have to budge from Britain to enjoy a few days skiing! So why head like lemmings for those cram-packed ski resorts in far flung places, when you can chill out and enjoy the real snow experience closer to home, often at a fraction of the cost?


Although you can ski in the Lake District in Cumbria when there's enough snow. Scotland, and the Cairngorms natural ski resort, in particular, is the place to be if you're looking for somewhere more snow-dependable. The Cairngorms is the highest land mass in the UK and therefore the nearest you'll get to predictably reliable skiing conditions, in Britain. The vagaries of British weather aside, the ski season in the Cairngorms usually runs from December to early April.


Located amid the glorious Highland scenery of Strathspey, the Cairngorm Mountain range lies between Speyside and Braemar. The highest peak, Ben Macdhui, rises to a height of 4,296 feet; the three other main peaks stand at: Braeriach (4,249 feet), Cairn Toul (4,242 feet) and Cairn Gorm (4,085 feet). Once a quiet railway village, the region's main ski resort, Aviemore was developed in the 1960s to cope with the booming skiing industry. Today, Aviemore is the largest ski centre, in the Cairngorms offering conveniently located accommodation and a broad choice of tourist amenities. Facilities include a funicular railway, east of Aviemore which travels up the flank of the Cairn Gorm terminating at the highest restaurant and shop in Britain.   


Skiing aside, the Cairngorms and the surrounding area is also a great all-year-round tourist destination. For a start, the Cairngorms National Park (designated Scotland's second National Park in September 2003) also offers spectacular scenery - moors, forests, hills, glens, lochs, rivers, alpine plants and rare wildlife. The remote corries, throughout the region, are home to golden eagles, ptarmigan and other rare species. In late August and September, the hillsides are a mass of purple heather and the forests in autumn time form swathes of rich golden, russet hues. In addition, the area is well-known for its wide range of sports including fishing (the River Spey is famous for its salmon), walking, hiking, golf, biking and pony trekking. So, if taking to the slopes is not your bag, take the chairlift to the top instead and simply enjoy the breathtaking views.


But above all, the Cairngorms are seen as a trendy ski destination for those who dare to be different. So go on - give it a go! The Cairngorms is Britain's prime ski centre and is fast becoming a viable alternative to other European ski destinations.  Book up a flight on one of the budget airlines that fly to Inverness; check out the available B&B deals in the area (Grantown-on-Spey, Carrbridge, Newtonmore, Aviemore (the main ski centre) all make good bases); create your own ski package; have fun. At least, this year, you can keep up with the Joneses when they're banging on interminably about their annual skiing holiday in that same old European resort.


Don't be put off if you've never been skiing before; newbies fear not. If you would like to get a feel for things before venturing onto the natural snowy slopes of Scotland, why not have a trial run - first - on one of the seventy- seven real snow and artificial slopes conveniently located around the UK? Nothing ventured, nothing gained!


Find your perfect Bed and Breakfast in The Cairngorms National park and grab your ski's (or snowboard)

Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 29 September 2016 12:07

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Chester - such a civilised city

Chester – such a civilised city


Over six million people visit Chester, every year, making this charming city one of the most popular short stay tourist destinations in Britain.

Chester B&B 


image courtesy of istock.com (Artist name villorejo)

So what's so appealing about Chester from a visitor's point of view? The simple answer is that this famous walled city has something for everyone: history, rich heritage, sophisticated ambience, chic shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants, street theatre, lively lifestyle, an abundance of prime location B&Bs and above all, a genuine welcome. Add to this the fact that Chester is a compact city and it's easy to find your way around and really, you can't go wrong!


Chester was built over 2,000 years by the Romans as a garrison port named 'Deva'. The Romans held sway for more than 300 years until the Saxons and then the Normans extended the town, adding an abbey (which later became a cathedral, in Tudor times), a castle and larger walls. In mediaeval times, Chester was an important port and trading centre, with its characteristic half-timbered merchants' houses, built on stone cellars and linked by galleried walkways. Chester's fortunes, however, took a down-turn during the seventeenth century when the River Dee silted up and Cromwell's men wrought havoc upon the city, destroying many of its original buildings. The next 200 years or so were spent restoring this cathedral city to its former glory. During the Georgian period, Chester re-emerged as a place where prosperous merchants chose to settle. But it is the nostalgic Victorians whom we have to thank for the 'replica' black and white 'Magpie style' façades that were built in mediaeval and Tudor style.


Things to see and do in Chester:


Walk the Wall: If you do nothing else, at least make time to walk along Chester's famous city walls; other British cities have fine city walls but none as complete as these or as accessible (some sections have wheelchair access). It takes about an hour to walk round the entire walls. From this vantage point, take in the sights: the cathedral, Roodee (the ancient racecourse), the Welsh hills in the distance, a bird's eye view of the River Dee, the hustle and bustle of the Rows below .. Pause en route and make a wish at the 'Wishing Steps' which link the south and east walls. Legend has it that if you manage to run up and down these steps, without drawing breath, then your wish is sure to come true.


The Rows (Eastgate Street, Bridge Street, Watergate Street): Although a few of the two-tier shop fronts, notably the '3 Old Arches', Bridge Street, date back to the thirteenth century, most of the unique store façades with which Chester is synonymous were actually built during the Victorian period. Enjoy the frontages for their architectural quirkiness. But be prepared to battle past the high street names in search of Chester's many specialist shops, from gourmet food to up-market arts and crafts.


Chester Cathedral: Built in 'stages' and occupying pride of place at the heart of the city, Chester Cathedral has its origins in the eleventh century. The last major construction work was carried out in the sixteenth century. The splendid edifice that we see today was once St. Werburgh's Abbey, which became a cathedral in the 1540s. Chester Cathedral remains one of Britain's best-preserved examples of a Benedictine abbey. The cathedral has some amazing features including the choir with its intricately carved stalls and magnificent stained glass windows.


Chester Zoo (Caughall Road, Upton): This is no ordinary zoo. Founded in 1903, Chester Zoo was truly visionary for its times in its aim to give its inhabitants plenty of space. To this day, animal welfare remains of paramount importance. Its 7,000 or so inmates are housed in generously proportioned enclosures and 'natural' habitats: a free-flying bat cave, human-sized prairie dog tunnels, a 'monkey kitchen' and much more. Conservation is also high-profile at Chester Zoo with several species bred specifically for returning to the wild. 


Chester Racecourse: A day at the races is a great way to take a break from all that sightseeing. Notoriously difficult to navigate, Chester's racecourse is constructed in a 'tight' circle which adds to the atmosphere of thrills and spills. If you happen to be visiting Chester in June, then the spectacular Roman Race Day is a must.


Choose Chester for a well-earned break that will appeal to all the family. Keeping everyone happy is a bit of a tall order, but if any city can rise to the challenge - Chester can!


Find your perfect Chester B&B, Guest House or Hotel on Bed and Breakfasts Guide

Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 1 September 2016 02:55

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Relax and unwind in Devon

Relax and De-stress in Devon


Looking to de-stress at a stunning bed and breakfast in Devon? Devon is always the perfect destination in Britain to take a break – to slow down the pace, relax and de-stress.

 B&B Brixham

 Image is of Beautiful Brixham harbour, courtesy of istock.com artist name  GordonBellPhotography

One of Britain's most popular holiday destinations. Open roads, open countryside, relaxing, picturesque towns and villages, friendly ambience in tearooms, pubs and restaurants and a huge selection of excellent B&Bs and Hotels to cater for all your needs. You simply can't go wrong. 

Devon Cream Tea

There are regional variations within England as to how a cream tea should preferably be eaten. The Devonshire (or Devon) method is to split the scone in two, cover each half with clotted cream, and then add strawberry jam on top. Traditionally it is important that the scones be warm (ideally, freshly baked), clotted cream (not whipped), and that the jam be strawberry (although raspberry jam is sometimes used as an alternative[citation needed]). Butter should never be included, and the tea should be served with milk.

In Cornwall the cream tea was traditionally served with a "Cornish split", a type of slightly sweet white bread roll, rather than a scone. It is now rare to find this available commercially, even in Cornwall, although splits are still used by many Cornish families in their own homes. The warm roll (or scone) should first be spread with strawberry jam, and finally topped with a spoonful of Cornish clotted cream.Scones are rarely buttered in commercially available teas - although we recommend it! 

Another variation to a cream tea is called "Thunder and Lightning" which consists of a round of bread, topped with clotted cream and golden syrup, honey or treacle.


England's third largest county, Devon, boasts an impressive range of scenery, between its north and south coastlines, including the two famous national parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor.

Devon has a fine reputation for taking its tourism industry very seriously; the infrastructure is in place and the county has earned its stripes as a provider of top quality accommodation and hospitality. And, at this time of year you'll be spoilt for choice. There are some fantastic late deals around and something to suit everyone's taste and budget. But, that's just the beginning. 

For those of you who want to do more than just put your feet up and chill, in idyllic surroundings, here are just a few suggestions (at the risk of omission!) for great days out in Devon:


Beaches: So many magnificent beaches, north and south and all within easy reach: flat swathes of sand at Woolacombe and Croyde Bay (noted for its superb surfing); the sandy dunes of Braunton Burrows and the stunning coastline of Start Bay are, to name but a few, beaches and bays that will satisfy more than just the bucket and spade brigade.


Exmoor: Relatively unpopulated, even in high season, Exmoor's wooded valley, heather moor and spectacular cliff top views from the town of Lynton or a trip on the cliff railway that takes you from Lynton to Lynmouth below, are not to be missed. 

Buckland Abbey (Yelverton): Enjoy a trip back in time, at Buckland Abbey, a medieval monastery, dating back to the thirteenth century. The hands-on style exhibition of the exploits of Sir Francis Drake is likely to appeal to all ages.

Canonteign Falls (Near Chudleigh): England's highest waterfall is set amidst spectacular scenery, surrounded by lakes, rocky crags and woodland.

Dartington Crystal (Great Torrington): A visit to the Dartington Crystal glass factory is a must for those who want to find out more about the ancient craft of glassmaking. The visitors' centre has a glass activity area that is great fun for young and old.

A visit to Dartmouth Castle is worth it for the sweeping views, alone, from its imposing battlements, as well as its wonderful waterside location.

Devon Railway Centre (Tiverton): Fun for all the family, the Devon Railway Centre, in the Exe Valley, forms part of the restored Great Western Railway. The railway museum and exhibition centre are well worth a visit.

Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon (Barnstaple): The museum encapsulates North Devon's social and natural history, dating back to 1845 and provides a unique insight into the archaeology and pottery industry of North Devon.

Powderham Castle (Exeter): This is definitely a day out for all the family. Powderham Castle, the family seat of the Earl of Devon, is open to the public with guided tours of the impressive staterooms and Castle grounds. The kids will love the children's secret garden and miniature steam railway.

Tarka trail: For an invigorating day out, in the great outdoors, head for the Tarka Trail, which consists of more than 180 miles of winding paths through rural Devon countryside. The trail is suitable for both walkers and cyclists.

South Molton: For visitors in search of the elegance and grandeur of former times, South Molton is sure to please. Famous for its period Georgian architecture, South Molton oozes charm, with its fine churches and museum, its antique shops and stalls selling local produce.  


Exeter: The cathedral city of (and university town) has so much to offer: historic sites dating back to Roman times, as well a modern day cosmopolitan atmosphere, shops, pubs and restaurants and a wide range of attractive accommodation. Visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, Exeter, with its display galleries that take visitors on a trip through history to modern day Exeter and further afield.    

The area know as the English Riviera is also in this county, this includes the beautiful towns of Paignton, Brixham, and Torquay in Torbay. Read more about this beautiful area in our blog on the English Riviera

With its winning formula of beautiful countryside, glorious beaches, picturesque seaside resorts, historic towns and so much to do that appeals to all the family, Devon has, indeed, got the lot.

So, what are you waiting for? Get online and book yourself a break, in Devon, before the high-season tourists beat you to it!

Find your next Bed and Breakfast or hotel in Devon on Bed and Breakfasts Guide.



Posted by David Martin on Thursday, 11 August 2016 08:51