If you want a break that gives you peace and quiet, beautiful Scottish island scenery, a pristine beach, sparkling sea and masses of outdoor space to let the kids explore, this is perfect.
There is no formal camp ground. You pitch your tent on the grass next to the beach and put some money in a box in the local village. There are public toilets to use but other than that, this is pretty wild camping.
The area is really safe so the kids can go off and explore the beach and rock pools whilst you relax and get the camp fire going. Long summer days, lovely walking, swimming, fresh air and starry skies. This is a wonderful, memorable place to take the family.
on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis
Want to drive to Padstow to sample the various Rick Stein fare on offer? Here's a tip. Don't. Get on your bike instead. Go to Wadebridge (a pleasant enough place in itself), park there and then cycle down the beautiful, flat, and car free Camel Valley Trail along the river. There are ample bike hire places right by the trail itself, all with baby trailers, child-seats, kids' bikes (we took a three-month-old and a very excited two-and-a-half year old) and decent grown up bikes. Even for the seriously unfit/uncoordinated, it takes all of 45 minutes to amble into 'Padstein'. Once there, you avoid the six mile traffic queue and can securely park your bike for 50p in the many 'bike parks' at the end of the trail. And now you've worked up an appetite, Padstow is your oyster...
Another tip, avoid the hordes and head for the back streets - the Rick Stein Cafe (his 'third' restaurant) has his trademark great food, is very child-friendly, and doesn't take bookings. On the day we were there (a gloriously sunny August day) we had to wait for 20 minutes, which was a shorter than the queue for his fish and chips takeaway!
This bowling alley is rather hidden away, but it's worth finding. Unlike the large chains, it's got a really friendly atmosphere and the people there really know about bowling. It also has a well stocked bar and serves a good pint of Guinness.
Unit 1/Bawtry Road
Summerhill has just been opened for B & B by new owners. We stayed there the first week it was open. We can't speak highly enough of how comfortable and peaceful it is. It has fabulous views and is a short walk from the spectacular Tarn Hows. The rooms are luxurious and extremely well equipped with not just TV and internet available but you can choose from a wide choice of music or films streamed straight to your room. We are a little biased because we know two of the owners as friends, but I can honestly say we have never stayed in a better furnished or more welcoming B&B. I really don't think you'll be disappointed if you try it, and it's probably worth getting in before it becomes well-known and booked up.
Hawkshead Hill, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0PP. 01539 436095. www.summerhillcountryhouse.com
Serviced apartments in the city centre. Cheaper than a hotel most of the time and you can come and go as you please.
Located in the heart of the city centre, Premier Apartments are situated close to Moorfields and Lime Street Station. From the entrance of the Birkenhead Tunnel, turn left on to Dale St, and then bear right into Hatton Garden. Continue for 200 yards until you see reception's front office on the left-hand side directly opposite the Premier Court office block. 0151 227 9467.
Just been to Leyburn today, to find someone's finally opened a decent bakery there - at last! It's a wonderful market town but has always been missing a bakery. Now someone's opened one - and an organic artisan one too. There seem to be dozens of them in Cumbria and in London, but never round the Yorkshire Dales. They do wonderful hand made breads, as well as cakes and pastries. Just wish they had a cafe, but the shop is tiny so all you can get is take-away coffees and sandwiches. Still, well worth a visit - I hope everyone supports it!
Westfields Farm Organic Bakery, Leyburn Business Park (near the Teapottery and Chocolate Shop), Leyburn. Website: www.westfieldsfarm.com.
Clockwork is a big club with a warehouse feel and has played host to some of the best dub, hip-hop, electro, jungle and drum & bass artists around such as Foreign Beggars, Klaxons, Hot Chip, Congo Natty and Easy Star All-Stars.
Intimate underground music venue in the heart of Dalston. Sounds and styles may shift night-on-night, but it seems all of the promoters have their fingers on the pulse of their respective scenes. A local sweatbox that parades hyped acts at least six months before they truly blow up... but then can't afford to them back once they have. I admire that in a venue though.
38-44 Stoke Newington Road. London N16 7XJ
Small, intimate venue, with superb atmosphere: you could almost be on stage with the band. Close to the heart of York, but worth a visit from anywhere in the UK just to catch a special set in a unique venue.
While we're at it: catch the Tivoli in Utrecht, NL, before it disappears! (Zeche, Bochum, D, is probably Europe's finest: it's got everything.)
Fibbers is situated in The Stonebow on the Minster side of the River Ouse
A great little tapas bar - Spanish beer (Cruzcampo) and great freshly cooked authentic Spanish food. A splash of your travels to sunnier parts in a little dish in the middle of Old Town.
The staff are friendly and you are just as welcome for a coffee and a browse of the paper, as for a leisurely meal over a few courses.
Wood Street, Old Town, Swindon SN1 4AN
Small, intimate, underground venue with original retro decor in the dark, Jute Mill area of the city centre. Great music policy featuring DJs like Don Letts, Norman Jay, Gilles Peterson, 100% Dynamite, Toddla T, Mr Scruff, Qool DJ Marv and bands such as Earl Zinger, The Bays, Antibalas, Fat Freddys Drop, Blackalicious. Mellow, chilled out crowd and great bar and door staff. A happy face, a thumping bass, for a loving race...
Someone had a genius idea of making an old boat into a club. The acoustics are great - equipped for both DJs and bands who can pump out their tunes to a resonating effect within the boat's hull. It offers a triple decker sandwich of floors, the top being a bar and (lucky for smokers) a large outside deck complete with heaters! Straight down to the bottom, the hull becomes the main dance floor including a second bar. The selection of bands that play ranges from local to large, alternative to just plain awesome. Thursday is club night, Friday and Saturday if you want the next step up for music!
The Grove, East Mud Dock, BS1 4RB
next to River station restaurant.
Small, vibrant and atmospheric, this pub venue is a great place to get your socks off. This place makes city bars, with their coolness and high pretensions, seem comparatively parochial. Get out to the sticks and enjoy this wunderland for music lovers.
2, High St, Midsomer Norton, Bath, BA3 2HW
Tel: 01761 410904
Recently checked out the Modern for a 'working' lunch with a friend, who suggested the venue to me as she'd heard rumours that we would be in for a real good treat, mmm. And I wasn't disappointed.
It was fairly quiet when we arrived and we were allocated (in my view) the best table which presented a 360 degree view of the wintry Manchester skyline, rotating big wheel and all. The decor was formal yet cosy, sophisticated but not intimidating - the dark solid wooden tables and chairs contrasting nicely with the floor-to-ceiling frosted windows, with a nice clear panel you could see out of to admire the view, thank you very much.
Being a huge soup fan, particularly in the winter months (and there's nothing I enjoy more than knocking my own up at home) for starter I opted for the Jerusalem artichoke and rosemary soup with chanterelles. It was delicious, smooth, creamy, satisfying and tasted surprisingly healthy too (although I'm sure it wasn't). My friend forwent the starter and straight on to the main course. Pollock, smoked haddock and Loch Duart salmon fish pie, with wilted spinach and of course a side order of fat chips. A suprisingly generous portion, (she struggled to finish) the pie was dominated to her delight by the salmon (all that omega 3) which was perfectly pink and a wonderful texture. I opted for grilled Goosnargh maize-fed chicken,
braised leeks and Cheshire smoked bacon & a grain mustard sauce.
The chicken was tender with a crunchy jacket, complemented wonderfully by the bacon and the mustard sauce gave it a bit of added va va voom. Resisted desert (but of course tried 'just a taste') of my friend's caramelised quince tart and vanilla ice cream, which outshone event the artichoke soup. A beautiful combination of sweet and sour, the caramel gave it an added twist that was very moreish. The ice cream tasted home-made - which I didn't expect - and had a creamy, custardy texture, which was perfect.
With two diet cokes each to wash it down (it was a 'working' lunch after all) it came to just over £30, astoundingly reasonable for something quite so thoroughly posh. Marks out of 10 - 8.9 and with the starter and desert both scoring a winning 9.9.
Floors 5 & 6
0161 605 8282
This accommodation at university residences is only available June - early September. In June 2007 it cost £24 a night for a single room with shared bathroom. It's a beautiful location by Holyrood Park with free car parking, and it takes around 20 minutes to walk to Princes St. The self-service breakfast is excellent.
Cheap especially for a single room. I paid £24 for a single ensuite room. Centrally located, 10 minutes walk from Waverley rail station and Princes St. Breakfast not great, but good if you want budget accommodation with your own bathroom at a cheap rate.
It's right in the centre of the town. It's a new hotel with bright spacious family rooms that sleep up to two adults and two kids. It cost from just £19 a night if you book online on the non-refundable saver rate at least three weeks in advance.
The Ginnel, Harrogate HG1 2RR
Book online at:
Just down the road from the mighty Shepherdess Cafe, towards Old St station and on the left-hand side of City Road, is a little street called Westland Place (there's a shop on the corner called Renaissance which sells gothic fireplaces).
This is the home of St. Jamie Oliver's original Fifteen restaurant but also featured in the execrable film, Closer. A door on the left-hand side of the street labelled Westland Place Studios, between the fireplace shop and an old piping company premises, was the Julia Roberts character's front door in the vacuous, self-regarding snorefest.
In this scene, Jude Law's character makes a reference to going to "the pub round the corner". He was talking about the Eagle, a pleasant old boozer behind the Shepherdess Cafe, that features, along with City Road, in a less well-known verse of the nursery rhyme, Pop Goes the Weasel.
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