It's not just the home of the National Motor Museum. The place also has a walled garden, a palace house and a ruined abbey. Alongside the ruins is the active parish church. There is a beautiful footpath that runs between the lake at the palace house and the monorail station at the motor museum.
Oh yes, and a bunch of cars. Some really old ones, and some sporty ones, and some two wheelers (i.e. motorcycles), and some movie ones (James Bond cars!), and firetrucks, and old buses, and...well there's a lot. I think most of them are in running order, too. You can take a ride in an original London double-decker! Its exhaust stinks: do they use yesterday's fish batter oil to run the thing!?
The palace is a large mansion, some of which is open to poke around. The guides are very knowledgeable and helpful. The lord and lady still live in the place. Sometimes, you can sneak a look at their private apartments. In spring, the gardens and paths are awash with daffodils!
If you gift-aid your admission, then you get free re-entry to the motor museum (but not the rest of the place - although that is discounted).
Photos and a description of our visits are on our website: www.reeves-hall.net/kids-outings/beaulieu-motor-museum/
Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd
John Montagu Building
Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
+44 (0) 1590 612345
Aix-les-Bains is the second spa town of France (after Dax) full of beautiful sights such as splendid hotels, a casino, museums and a baroque church. It may be a small town but it has a lot more to see than you first think.
First, explore the town centre, than walk to the Petit and Grand Ports on Lac du Bourget and finally climb up the mountain above Lac du Bourget in Tresserve for breathtaking views of the lake (the lake is prettier on the Aix-les-Bains side than on the practically deserted western shore at Le Bourget) and the town, and then climb back down to the town centre via Tresserve.
Aix-les-Bains is 9 miles north of Chambéry on the train line between Chambéry and Lyon/Annecy.
It's only a 20 minute train ride from Chambéry - don't just pass through it (like so many tourists do) on the way to Annecy or Geneva as you're missing out on a great place
Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Devon with its golden vistas of beech woods that fill the landscape and, if you want more variety in your autumn colours, then a visit to Buckland Monachorum, with its magnificent acer glade, will bowl over even the most ardent leaf peeper.
Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton, near Tavistock, Devon, PL20 7LQ
£5.50 entrance fee, need your own transport to get there, plant centre sells plants, garden tearooms at the place serves homemade cakes and light lunches
Get the train from Exeter to Teignmouth, walk from the station to the seafront, and walk towards the ness, along the beach, around from the channel to the mouth of the river Teign, then walk along the river beach - you will be opposite Shaldon, and see Dartmoor up the River Teign.
Get the Teignmouth ferry to Shaldon, walk up to the ness, go through the smuggler's tunnel on to the beach. Return to Teignmouth on the ferry, and continue walking along the river beach, you will pass a row of original fisherman's cottages, and come to the Ship Inn, buy a pint and watch the sun setting over the moors.
Venice is my most favourite city in the entire world, but when you are fed up of being jostled and barged into, when you become invisible to the ocean liner troupe let loose in the city for a few hours, where can you go?
Take the vaporetto or ferry from the Fondamente Nouve stop on Venice’s northern shore and travel 10km north-west across the lagoon to the tiny, windswept island of Torcello.
Deep channels run between the mud-banks and are marked by bricole, wooden poles lashed together and emerging from the water. The channels are busy with all sorts of craft - rushing water taxis, vaporetto ploughing along full of city workers, huge dredgers keeping channels clear and fishermen looking for shrimp.
The landscape opens out as you enter the lagoon. It’s often misty, often mysterious. The sky and water merge. Brine laden winds caress you. All at once the quiet of the lagoon becomes unearthly. A feeling of deep relaxation is within you, which can be strangely energising.
This silent island was the first in the lagoon to be settled by Veneti after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire and Germanic invasion. It was virtually impregnable and became an attractive refuge for merchants and tradesmen. The population once exceeded 20,000 but by the 12th century the lagoon had silted up and Torcello became inaccessible and malarial. The inhabitants left, and literally took their fine residences with them, leaving a littering of architectural debris.
Just a handful of residents remain in this tranquil backwater. The two churches of Torcello stand in magnificent isolation around the overgrown piazza - the church of Santa Fosca alongside the oldest building in the lagoon, the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta founded in the 7th century. Its exterior is devoid of splendour, yet within are Byzantine treasures - the 13th century Madonna in the apse and the west wall decorated with a huge 12th century mosaic depicting the Last Judgement. The massive stone shutters of the windows turning on huge rings of stone cause the whole building to resemble a retreat from the enemy rather than a house of God.
The roughly crafted campanile is to be climbed in the early evening, up strangely sloping ramps. The throat catching beauty and loneliness of the lagoon becomes apparent. John Ruskin called it, “a waste of wild sea moor of a lurid ashen grey”. The mudflats and marshes are choked. The silted-up waterways are now homes to herons and egrets. Trees, reeds and broom grow over what was once a settlement. With imagination, this place is timeless. Just rest and sigh. Enjoy this place with an open mind and a willingness to get lost.
As you speed back to Venice for your evening meal, take a moment, turn, and catch that ‘Turneresque’ light. Watch the buildings of the island melt into the lagoon.
Torcello is the perfect antidote to glamorous Venice. There’s time for quiet contemplation, which too often nowadays can elude you in Serenissima.
The Tiger Temple is a Buddhist temple about 38km from Kanchanaburi. The monks look after numerous animals, among them several tame tigers that walk around freely once a day and can be petted by tourists.
Close to Buenos Aires, front door pickup, great people, great food, great horses, great lodging, not a tourist trap and very reasonably priced.
RP 193 , Km 10.5 Zarate / escalada
Km 10,5 Escalada, Cuartel IV Buenos Aires 2800
Tel: 54 (011) 4765 4320
Tourists to Egypt hear much of Akhenaten, the probable father of Tutankhamun, who tried to replace worship of the traditional Egyptian gods with a sort of monotheism devoted to the sun-disk.
Objects from his reign form one of the most spectacular displays in the Cairo Museum but few ever visit his short lived capital city at Tell el-Amarna (which gives its name to the period and the artistic style of the times). Little remains of the city itself (although the setting is highly atmospheric) but the tombs of the king and his courtiers in the cliffs and wadis to the east are among the finest in the country, and mercifully free of marauding tourists – I was the only person at the site the day I visited.
A visit requires several hours and is probably best arranged as part of a stop-over in the nearby city of el-Minya (150 miles south of Cairo) which has several comfortable hotels. A military escort is required to travel through this part of the country although there is no real threat – it’s more like getting the VIP treatment.
Often overlooked in favour of Giza, Saqqara is a far more varied archaeological site, and is much less crowded, both with tourists and the tat-hawkers that tend to go with them.
Here, you get to see the earliest pyramid – the so-called ‘Step Pyramid’, which is still impressive in size and is set in a partly-restored ‘complex’ of buildings. Various other pyramids in more or less romantically-ruinous states are scattered around the site, together with some of the most wonderfully decorated private tombs in Egypt.
With these, though, as with lots of sites in Egypt, it’s almost impossible to say what will be open and what won’t, because that information seems to change rather haphazardly. Get here under your own steam by a taxi from Cairo to make sure you can wander around the many acres of ruins without worrying about getting back on to a coach.
One thing not to miss is the pyramid of Unas – start at his pyramid and then walk down its ‘causeway’, which has private tombs built all around it.
A good idea for a weekend city break with all the family is Canterbury. Visit the Cathedral and other historic churches like St Martin's church and take a boat tour along the Stour river.
As well as seeing the usual sights, you must visit the Orangerie, a park or more accurately, pleasure garden just north east of the city centre.
There are beautiful gardens, stately buildings,a small zoo, an aviary,a boating lake, an unusual outdoor planetarium and a stylish cafe and restaurant.
A lovely place to spend an afternoon away from the busy city centre.
Strasbourg is set among waterways. Arrive on a canal boat.
Hire from just up the canal (Saverne or Lutzelbourg) and stay moored free just before the Rhine lock gates.
Five minutes from the centre by bike (hired with the boat) and you get to see the Alsatian countryside.
Try a night moored at Saverne, looking up at the Bishop's Palace where Cagliostro studied and Cardinal Rohan welcomed Marie Antoinette as she arrived to make a doomed marriage. Beats a static hotel room any day.
Don't miss the wood and park land called 'The Bois de Boulogne' in the north of Lille, easily accessible from the city centre.
It houses a spacious zoo whose aim is to breed endangered species; not to trap animals from the wild.
The playful red foxes will make you laugh and as a bonus, entrance is free.
The park has a great family atmosphere, none more so than on the last Sunday in May when every woman visiting the park is presented with a carnation to celebrate Mothers Day in France.
My tip is to visit the annual 'Braderie de Lille' - the biggest flea market in Europe, with stalls on over 100kms of pavements.
It is held over the first weekend in September in the centre of Lille. From Antiques to Junk, from Books to Pictures it is all there. The walk from Lille Europe to the market is short, some 500 yards so access is easy.
I discovered it by accident. Leaving the old station (Lille Flandres), after an ovenight trip from Italy, I headed for a café and stumbled across a small part of the market. I was hooked!
In the middle of the Christmas Market in Lille amongst the wooden huts selling mulled wine and crafts is a harmless looking Ferris wheel - make sure you don't miss having a go for a great birds eye view of the city especially at night and the chance to be scared witless.
The back of each car seemed so low I spent the entire time feeling like I was about to fall out!
Afterwards head for one of the cafes in the same square for a medicinal hot chocolate.
The swimming pool museum in Roubaix is less than 30 minutes from Lille centre by tram (Roubaix) or metro (Euroteleport).
The marvellous Museum of Arts and Industry relocated to this renovated 1920's swimming pool in 2001.
There is a huge Art deco rising sun window dominating the scene and the paintings, sculptures, textiles and (glorious) ceramics, showing the creativity behind Roubaix's heyday, are imaginitively displayed around the pool, shower cubicles and surronding areas.
Brussels is a colourful, charismatic and stunning city, full of rewarding surprises, it is least of all “boring”.
Don’t bother with the slightly eccentric and haphazard metro system – just walk. Central Brussels is small enough to potter round in a day.
Aim for the splendid Place du Grand Sablon (where you can get the best chocolates in the world) then head downhill to La Bourse and Grand Place and west into the trendy St. Catherine and St. Géry areas.
Make sure you take in plenty of good food and drink along with the stunning Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings that populate so many streets.
The best thing about Bruxelles/Brussel and the bilingual-Belgians is that they know all this; they just don’t go shouting it from every corner of the Grand Place.
I can heartily recommend buying the finest cheeses, meats and bread, beer and chocolates from the above areas, getting back on the Eurostar and turning all the other passengers green with envy as you tuck-in. Brussels is nearer than Paris too!
Visit Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat. Belgium is renowned for its delicious chocolate, which makes this an essential visit.
The museum tells the story of chocolate, right from its cocoa-based origins, as well as having lots of unexpected things made out of chocolate.
Ever fancied wearing chocolate? Marvel at the chocolate clothing, which means chocolate can now be worn outside the bedroom!
Sample the museum’s delicacy as you explore and you can even take some home with you, with a visit to the shop. It can be found on Rue de la Tête d'Or, Brussels.
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