29 October 2014

Unusual travel related trips - The Garden Centre

Its raining and you want to get out and do something.  This idea may not be the most obvious travel tip or trip for that matter. It certainly worked for me and the kids on a damp Wednesday during the holidays in the UK, so lets go with it. Garden centres don't normally spring to mind but their juxtaposition of plants for the Spring to Halloween features to Christmas lights and decorations. From its cafe (with a full menu) to books and clothes all being promoted at the same time. You'd be forgiven for thinking that you had visited a Garden Centre at all; thankfully there were plants and horticultural appliances aplenty. It's because of all these elements that paying them a visit for an hour or two can actually become an experience and a rather enjoyable one at that. So if you are visiting the UK this Autumn or Christmas or unsure of what to do for an hour or two, then find your nearest garden centre and pay it a visit. You might just enjoy yourself, wouldn't you?






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27 October 2014

Great days out of London No1 - Bekonscot Model Village


Its that time of year here in the UK when parents up and down the country are preparing themselves to entertain the kids; its half term holidays. Here is a suggestion for those that are looking for something a little different that doesn't take in Halloween or fireworks displays or for those who are visiting the UK and are looking for something a little different. Bekonscot is a model village (see images) that is as fun for the young as it is the old.

Its set on the edge of the Chilterns in the town of Beaconsfield, a 30+ minute journey outside of London. Its a joyous place to while away a couple of hours as you immerse yourself in their fantasy world, of small villages, eccentric English pursuits and model trains. Walking around and creating stories of what the tiny figures and scenes are portraying all adds to its appeal and will delight young and old. So why not venture a little way outside of London and see a world that will let your imagination run wild.


* This will be an occasional series of ideas for people to venture just a short distance away from London. Please let know your thoughts if you have visited or want to visit. Link to their website is given below.

The website for Bekonscot
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23 October 2014

A goats tail

The Case of the Missing Turnips - Part 9

23rd June

Having had the brainwave of the letter to get the kidnapper to help me steal the prize bull from the Johnsons field. I set about writing it, which was quite difficult considering I wasn't well versed. It went something like this;

Dear Mr or Mrs kidnapper and accomplices 

I am a trainee kidnapper in need of some help. I have a kidnapping to perform and you seem like the best one to help me. You seem to be quite good at it, so please could I meet you for a chat.
I'll be up in the little hamlet of Tyler's Hill, by the pub at 4pm for a ginger beer and a packet of pork scratchings. 

Yours in hope,
Another kidnapper

P.S I think my plan is much bigger than yours, it involves cows! 

I was rather pleased with the letter, so I rode to the Leyhill Echo's office (a shed) and waited, thinking it would be published there and then. In fact I waited quite a long time until I realised that the paper wouldn't come out until tomorrow, and that the office was closed, so I went home. 

I awoke early the next morning, perhaps it was the adrenaline that I was going to meet a dangerous criminal? Or it could have been mums snoring! I waited at the front door for the delivery of the newspaper. That little squirt Claire Flynn was our newspaper girl so I knew it wouldn't be delivered on time. It wasn't, infact it was so late I had already had breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack of scones with some homemade jam. Eventually the paper came through the door. I was going to apprehend Flynn but thought against it as she was with her Dad. I quickly opened the paper, to see if my letter had been printed..it had. My plan was set, however my eye caught a larger headline on the opposite page, that was to throw open the case even more.


Johnson's' Goats Go Missing

The missing animals mystery has had another twist to its tail. In a similar vain to the pigs and chickens, now Mr Johnsons' goats have gone missing. These kidnappings are said to be driving Mr Johnson mad. 

In other Johnson related news, Mrs Johnson is still missing presumed kidnapped as well. It hasnt been a particularly good month for Mr Johnson sources suggest.

This was all getting beyond a joke. How was I suppose to try and solve these cases if whoever was doing this was taking all of the Johnsons farm animals. What next cattle I thought? I turned the page...


Late news

Reports suggest that a prize bull has also been stolen and a herd of cattle have been seen making their way towards the nearby village of Bovingdon. An old lady wearing a balacalva was supposedly seen sheparding the cows on their way and walking off with the bull towards the small hamlet of Tylers Hill. Mr Johnson is unable to comment as he was last seen face down in cow dung, clearly a broken man.  

Well that had blown it, hadn't it? My plan was in pieces, much like Mr Johnson it seemed. Well that was it. I had to act and it was now or never. I was headed for Tylers Hill and I would find the bull and the kidnapper of the goats, chickens, pigs and Mrs Wilcox.

To be continued......



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16 October 2014

The other sides of summer

Autumn, (fall) and spring; those special times in the year when the vibrant colours appear, and the joy of walking is more special than perhaps at any other occasion. What joy it can bring to a gentle stroll in a park or wooded area. What displeasure though with the onset of April showers and Autumns rain and wind, which is what Autumn in the UK is currently throwing at us. What greater pleasure is there than a walk amongst the bluebells on a crisp spring morning? Or the kicking of leaves when Autumn descends? The following pictures I hope give some impression of the joys these seasons bring?


I am very fortunate to live in a rural part of the UK; on the edge of the Chiltern hills. A place where these delights are all too familiar. For some though are not so fortunate and from a travelling perspective I implore those who can to visit your local wood, country park or National Park and take in the sites, colours and smells that these seasons can offer. It will invigorate and inspire.

These are the perfect seasons to head out before the dark days of winter take hold or the hot days of summer rear their heads. So go for it, rain or shine, lets celebrate the joys of the seasons and the opportunities to get some much needed fresh air. Happy walking and please share your pictures of these most colourful of seasons.




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9 October 2014

The flying lady

Case 1: The Case of the Missing Turnips (Part 7 - the second bit)

June 22nd - Continued..

The press conference was to be held at St George's Hall (normally used by the local play group and the pensioners kendo club) at the top of a road called Jasons Hill. On arrival (minus the flask) I noticed that all the local press were there (i.e. The Leyhill Echo), represented by their young hack William (aged 12). PC Bob Pig was sitting at the centre of a large table with the deaf Mr Perth to his right, the accused Messrs Kiln and Pickles (who looked rather peeved by it all) and old Mrs Flueberry-Jones (who was asleep).  I assumed she was there for the kendo club? I took my seat at the back and listened intently to PC Bob Pigs statement.

Mr Pig spoke slowly and in such a monotone voice that I wasn't surprised that William the local hack was having far more fun flicking bogeys at the sleeping Mrs Flueberry-Jones. It all sounded rather boring to be honest, and didn't make much sense as the evidence he was presenting didn't add up. They had kidnapped her because she had argued at the last village committee meeting about the lack of funds for a new slaughter house she wanted to set up and they had stated that with one already owned by a local farmer called Mr Johnson. The need for another wasn't required. After what seemed an eternity of waffling from PC Bob Pig, in which he was going through those irrelevant facts of the councillors arrest I fell asleep myself. I was awoken by Mrs Flueberry-Jones, who was shaking me violently for some reason. Being a little sleepy and really unaware that it was Mrs Flueberry-Jones I pushed her back, angry at being woken. She fell, falling onto the playgroups see-saw, I stumbled when getting up and fell onto the other end of said see-saw, which in turn threw her into the air. Upon hitting the roof she descended towards the children's play pool, which hadn't been cleaned out and was full of dirty water. She landed with an almighty splash and a scream; a cry for help no-less. I stood around and waited to see if anyone would come and help, no-one did! Considering the hall was empty it wasn't really a surprise. The lack of care for the elderly was outrageous these days , I thought. So reluctantly I had to pull her up and left her to sort herself out. Well I thought, she did wake me up and I was having a rather nice snooze.

Having fallen asleep I had clearly no idea whether PC Bob Pig had in fact caught the kidnappers and also if that was the case, why hadn't Mrs Wilcox been found and paraded to the villagers? I had a hunch that Mrs Wilcox was still kidnapped and that the kidnapper was still at large in the village. Whilst walking home I came up with an idea that would hopefully draw out the kidnapper and I could then prove that PC Bob Pig had got it wrong and I could take all the credit. I would write a letter to the Leyhill Echo asking the kidnapper for his or her help and wait for a response. I would use the fact that the pigs, sheep and turnips had been stolen and I was thinking of stealing Mr Johnson's prize bull! Would it work? I was about to find out...

To be continued....

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5 October 2014

Underground, Overground

I wonder what the wombles (a 1970's UK children's TV show, for those unaware of them) would think of London's underground today? I imagine they wouldn't be that impressed; delays, engineering works, no air-con. But for all its faults I still think it should be celebrated. And this is coming from someone who has experienced commuting on the Piccadilly line and Metropolitan line everyday. Forever complaining that the train was late and the seats were uncomfortable, it's too hot etc etc. But having lived abroad and now using it every few weeks or so I have grown to love it once again, to celebrate its uniqueness, whatever it's faults. There is no other subway or underground system that can be  as iconic, could there?

When you travel to one of the worlds major metropolises the likelihood is that you will need to use their subway, metro or underground system. It becomes an essential part of the travel experience and for many the only way of getting around. They are all unique, all with their own brand of colours schemes, ways of operating, sounds and smells. And all should be celebrated and adored.  An example, New York's subway, dare I say it's a little grotty, all open planned with exposed lines. But that's what's great about it. It gives it its distinctiveness. As does Tokyo's with its perfect timing, the sound system accompanying an approaching train and the blandness of its walkways. London's underground though (for me) remains the one that encapsulates the experience the most. London without the underground would be like fish with its chips or clams without its chowder, they just have to be together. From its wonderful map, to its unique upholstery, the underground sign to its history. The way you can get across the capital using many different combinations; give it a go the next time you visit, add a little fizz to your visit. Choose an end point and see what different ways you can get there, perhaps split up if you're with someone and see who gets there the quickest. A new sport?

So that's the underground. I'm sure I will revisit it throughout the development of this blog and others whenever I visit them. So whatever country and whatever transport system perhaps we need to step back and re-look at them, try to find the cuteness within them and what makes them tick. So three cheers for the underground. Oh how dull travel would be without you!

Footnote
Would love to hear your own feelings towards any underground, subway or metro system. How are they for you?

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