Holidays are Coming*

Hello all

If you live in the UK, you may have seen the recent television adverts in which the likes of Stephen Fry, Julie Walter and Lady Mary Crawley promote ‘Staycations’ in 2012. I’m not a big fan of the term, but I applaud the sentiment. Everyone loves a foreign holiday, be it a beach in Greece, a European capital city or a dream trip to Australia. But are you ignoring all the wonderful places that Britain has to offer?

I know what some people will say when you try to convince them to take a British holiday. Firstly, there’s the weather. The good old British weather; why take a holiday here, where it might rain for a week, when you can go abroad and have sunshine and warm temperatures. I have a counter argument to this. If you go abroad, and you have the misfortune to encounter rubbish weather, you aren’t prepared for it. You have your suncream, your sandals and your sunglasses, but chances are that you haven’t packed an umbrella, a jacket, or a pair of suitable shoes. If you’re on holiday in Britain, you’ve probably overpacked. You’ve got your shorts, your sunglasses, your suncream and your flipflops. But you’ve also got a couple of thick jumpers, a pair of wellies, a coat (and a jacket), and maybe a hat (not a floppy sun hat, but a woollen hat). You’re prepared! The weather might stay nice for the entirety of your stay, but if it turns, you have everything you need to stay warm and dry.

The other argument against staying in Britain is the cost. Center Parcs and Butlins, two popular British holiday destinations, both work out to be expensive, especially if you going for the self catering option and you have to buy all of your food too. If I wanted to go with my three friends to Elveden Forest Center Parcs for a weekend in May, it would cost us £459. That’s not including the cost of any activities (except swimming) that we might want to do. And who wants to go to Center Parcs just to go swimming? Butlins in May would cost us £533 for four nights including breakfast and dinner.

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Butlins 533

If you want to go abroad, you can go to Turkey for seven nights, all inclusive, for £254. You wouldn’t have to take much spending money, if you didn’t want to, because all of your food and drink is included in that price, along with flights and accommodation. What a bargain.

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I know, I’m not really making a good case for the staycation here, am I? Here’s my argument. People seem to think that you need to go to these places that provide entertainment and activities onsite. Center Parcs may be a lot of fun (I wouldn’t know, as I said I haven’t ever been), and Butlins is great if you have a family because there’s a lot to do within the complex. But if, just like me. you are going on holiday with your friends or your other half, why would you need entertainment to be provided for you? You can find it yourself, and for this, you don’t need to stay at a holiday resort.

My friends and I have been going on caravan holidays for a few years now; usually we book through The Sun’s £9.50 holiday scheme, which never actually costs just £9.50, but still works out to be a bit of a bargain. As a child, I went on caravan holidays every year with my parents and my brothers and sister, usually to Norfolk, and we always had a fantastic time. OK, so it’s not the height of luxury, but most caravans have a shower, television and decent enough kitchen.

And as for costs, depending on when and where you go, you can always get a bargain. Lots of people own static caravans, and are looking to rent them out throughout the year to gain a bit of extra income.

Caravan

These prices are from the Park Holidays website for a caravan in Felixstowe, Suffolk. As you can see, the lowest price is £86 for a caravan for three nights that can be shared by 6 people. Quite the bargain. Of course, as you can see, the prices rise as the summer progresses, and the prices also vary depending on where in the country you want to go. But caravans are not the only type of holiday that get more expensive in July and August, as we all know. The same resort in Turkey that I featured above rises to £520 per person at the end of July, and to £549 by the middle of August. The same accommodation at Center Parcs is £579 at the end of July.

Obviously, caravans aren’t the only type of accommodation for a staycation. You can stay in a Bed and Breakfast, or a hotel, or you can go camping. The prices vary so much depending on where you go, and you do have to do your research, I have found, for B&Bs and hotels, but usually it’s worth it.

When I originally thought about this post, I wanted to give you some ideas of the amazing things that you can see in Britain both in 2012 and at any time. But then I got sidetracked into proving that a holiday in this country doesn’t have to cost the earth, and certainly doesn’t have to be more expensive than a holiday abroad! So another post or two will follow with details of those wonderful things that Britain has to offer.

How do you feel about staycations? (How much do you hate the term, or is that just me?) Do you prefer a holiday abroad or in this country?

*The Holidays of the title obviously refer to the British meaning, rather than the American.

Project 366 – Week 11

Hello all

Well, here we are, at Week 11, and I have my first missing day! I forgot to take a photograph on Sunday, so Day 71 is missing. Which is a shame, but not a catastrophe, and I’m determined to carry on, without worrying too much! I finished my ABC Photo Challenge, and I was very proud of it, because some of the later letters required a bit of thinking! There are too many mobile phone photos in this batch for my liking, so I apologise for the quality of them, once again!

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~ Day 65 ~

V is for videos – lots of them! We do still have a video player, but I don’t know if it’s usable, it certainly hasn’t been used in some time. Yet we still have a cupboard full of videos! Some of them are home videos, so they have to be converted to DVD before we can get rid of them, but the rest of them could probably go now.

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~ Day 66 ~

All of the family wedding photos are on a cabinet in the corner of the living room, and I wanted to take a photo of them all, but I couldn’t fit them all in, so I just took one of my mum and dad on their wedding day.

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~ Day 67 ~

I struggled all day with an idea for X, but then I saw Gemma’s letter, which is sitting waiting patiently for me to reply to it, and I saw the kisses and thought it was an easy solution, if not a bit of a cheat!

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~ Day 68 ~

Again, I struggled with Y, and was going to do yarn, but then hit upon the idea of Yahtzee!

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~ Day 69 ~

This was always going to be Z, in lieu of actually being at a zoo, or having any other ideas. I have never played Zoo Tycoon 2, but I love the first game. Hours of fun.

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~ Day 70 ~

On Saturday I ended up in Leigh-on-Sea, quite by accident, and, it being quite lovely there, I took quite a few photographs. This is my favourite (I like the sky).

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Four-Way Love

Hello all

I thought I’d share my first experience of a Google Hangout with you! I joined Google+ a while ago, when you still needed an invite, and was almost immediately underwhelmed. Let’s face it, it’s not great, is it? My friend Rob tries to convince me, all the time, that it is great, it’s just that there aren’t enough people on there at the moment, but I’m not really buying it. I’m no expert, of course, but it doesn’t give me anything that Facebook or Twitter doesn’t, and for that reason, I’m out. Except I’m not, not really, because it does give me one thing that Skype doesn’t (at least for free), and that is video calling with more than one person. My friends and I use Skype (though not as regularly as I would like), and it’s great, but you need to have a premium subscription to use video when there are more than three people on a call.

Now, Google+ has something called a hangout, and you can add various different people (up to ten) on video. We’ve been meaning to try it for ages, and finally, tonight, we did. The main problem was that Vicky couldn’t see our video, though we could see her, but that was a problem at her end, rather than with Google+. All in all it was very successful, and the quality of the call was as good as Skype. I took a few screenshots to share with you, because I’m kind like that.

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As you can see, you can be a dog (also a cat, devil or angel) while you are talking, and Anna took full advantage, being a total loser.

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Rob as a devil. Also, just so you know, Rob was upstairs, and Anna was downstairs, in the same house. Also, nobody technically invited Rob to the conversation, he was just super excited, but he’s a Google nerd.

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My webcam isn’t great quality, and it’s at a funny angle, so I don’t look great (also, I don’t look great).

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I think this is when we were all laughing at Rob, though I can’t remember why!

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Anna as an angel, falling asleep because Rob was talking about mountain lions, or leopards, or some such nonsense.

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And finally, Anna and I attempting a kiss, as we prepared to sign off and say goodbye. We continued to talk for about forty minutes after this photo.

So that’s that. Google+ hangouts are good. Google+ itself is not. Or rather, it’s wholly pointless.

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Best in Show ~ Blog Posts

Hello all

I follow rather a lot of blogs on my Google Reader, and I get so annoyed with myself when I let the posts build up so high that I just don’t have the time to read them all. I have just had another mammoth session of reading through them all, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite posts of the last week or so with you.

1. 5 Tips for Lifestyle Photography

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Here, Elsie from a beautiful mess shared some of her tips for photographing everyday life. And these aren’t technical tips, as such, more general advice about how to capture the little details you often overlook.

2. Sputnik Inspired Lighting

One of my Project 366 photos last week was of a light fitting, and although it wasn’t necessarily sputnik inspired, I very much enjoyed the aesthetic of it, in the same way that I like these lights that Nicole at Making it Lovely picked out. Rather too expensive for my tastes, but enjoyable all the same!

3. Look – Bedknobs and Broomsticks

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Mallory at Where the Lovely Things Are posted some screenshots of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and I had to share it just because I love the film! And I have the same reaction as she does to Portobello Road – I immediately start hearing it in my head whenever I am near the place or see it written down, and I secretly would love to walk through the market and have everyone start singing and dancing to it.

4. DIY Vintage Playing Card Framed Picture

Victoria at Lily Loves Lola provided her readers with a really simple yet effective DIY tutorial, using some vintage playing cards and a frame! It’s such a good idea; I’ve pinned it to my Crafty board on Pinterest and I’m definitely going to be trying it, or something similar, in the future.

5. Make Your Own Peanut Butter

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Another one from Elsie at a beautiful mess here (one of my favourite blogs at the moment), she made her own peanut butter! Yum! I have seen it made before, and I’ve always thought I would like to try it, because I love the idea that it is just made from peanuts, and no actual butter or anything! I also want to try the hazelnut chocolate spread, because I love Nutella too!

What have you been blogging about this week?