Archive for category Events

Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire

Near Grassington, Yorkshire. Picture by Flickr user Andrew Bowden

Near Grassington, Yorkshire. Picture by Flickr user Andrew Bowden. CC Licence.

This weekend sees the creation of a little bit of history. For the first time, the biggest cycling event in the world, the Tour de France, commences its Grand Depart from Yorkshire!

Stage one starts on Saturday (5th July) with the cyclists travelling from Leeds through to Harrogate. The riders will start from Leeds then be officially waved off by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they pass through the Harewood Estate.  Stage two is the following day and travels from York to Sheffield. It is estimated that there will be around two million spectators per day and financial benefits to the region in excess of £100 million.

Expect all manner of events, decorations and celebrations throughout the weekend as Yorkshire goes Tour de France crazy! It will be a wonderful weekend to visit the county to see it and its people at their absolute best. The weather forecast currently doesn’t look too bad, with cloud and sunny spells predicted on Saturday.

Expect to see lots of art on the hillsides of the route, with grass cut into patterns and shapes, Yorkshire dialect signage to welcome visitors, plus large-scale line drawings made by the tracks of bikes cycled into the grass. There will be street art, houses painted with polka dots like the famous jersey, and roads painted with the phrase “Ey up t’Tour!” Also, there is expected to be World Record set with the longest bunting on Earth stretching just over 10 kilometres from Mytholmroyd (once home to Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath) to the summit of Blackstone Edge.

“Christian Prudhomme [the Tour director] has always said the Tour has the power to make social change. Because it’s not just about the bike. This will showcase Yorkshire to the world, showing it to be a confident, dynamic, outgoing place, representing all the things that are positive about the world this day and age.” Said Gary Verity, Chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourism board responsible for the successful bid to host the Grand Depart.

He added: “Yorkshire has cool places, green places in every sense, dynamic people, rich heritage, great food and drink, cutting edge industries in all sectors, great communications, fantastic transport links. With luck it will also help to redress a bit the balance between the south and the north.”

You can plan your journey, or where to settle using the official site and if you want to combine it with some accommodation to make a weekend of it to explore the area and soak up the atmosphere go to our Yorkshire section of the website.

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Father’s day, teddy bears, pints and scarecrows

Scarecrow picture by Flickr user Tim Green

Scarecrow picture by Flickr user Tim Green

This Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s shaping up to be a lovely weekend for lots of activities!

It’s a special Father’s Day teddy bear picnic at Newquay Zoo on Sunday. Great fun for the family and fathers get special half price entry. Children under 15 will get in for free if they bring their teddy bear for the picnic! Face painting will be available throughout the day, and find out about the animals at the daily keeper talks.

Dads go free at Newquay‘s Blue Reef Aquarium this Sunday. Learn about the roles of fathers in the ocean, from dedicated seahorses and not so dedicated sea turtles.

How about a pasty and a pint courtesy of Pennywell Farm, Buckfastleigh? Dads will also be able to have a go at some falconry or have a blast on the Red Rocket.

This weekend is the annual Scarecrow Festival in Devon‘s East Budleigh. Expect all the lovely festivities, foods and drinks from a normal village fete, but with a surreal but wonderful display of scarecrows throughout the village!

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Easter events in Devon 2014

Easter Bunny by Flickr user somewhereintheworldtoday

Easter Bunny by Flickr user somewhereintheworldtoday

Here are some family friendly events taking place this Easter in Devon. If you haven’t already booked your accommodation, make sure to visit our Devon holiday cottages.

Easter weekend at Living Coasts, Torquay’s costal zoo and aquarium. Meet the cute little chicks and take part in the Easter egg trail, games and craft activities, as well as meeting all the playful penguins and many more fascinating creatures!

Visit Kents Cavern, prehistoric caves in Torquay for a Dinosaur themed Easter. Piece together the Dino facts around the caves, solve the T-REX riddles and see if you can win an Easter surprise.

Easter egg trails at Coleton Fishacre, Dartmouth. Part of the National Trust, you can explore this lovely RHS accredited garden with winding paths through glades, past tranquil ponds, and see many wonderful plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and New Zealand thriving in this sheltered valley.

Go ‘Beyond the Book‘ in Bovey Tracey at this exhibition of artists that examine the book as a physical form as well as a container of ideas and concepts. Expect a variety of sculpture, installation and jewellery.

Family Rock Days in Okehampton. Suitable for ages 8 and up, this tour of some of the famous Dartmoor tors will cover a range of activities such as rock climbing, weaselling and bouldering.

Also in Okehampton is the Finch Foundry rag rug making workshop on Easter Monday.

The Big Sheep near Bideford, North Devon, is holding an Easter egg hunt to end all Easter egg hunts. Over 30,000 miniature chocolate eggs will be hidden throughout the site, plus, if you find three of them, you can claim a big egg! The Easter Bunny will also be making an appearance for a special breakfast!

 

 

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Eggcellent Cornwall this Easter

Eggs in basket picture by Flickr user cyanocorax

Eggs in basket picture by Flickr user cyanocorax

The Easter holidays are nearly upon us! So, if you still haven’t planned your activities, here are a select few of the things going on in Cornwall with suggestions of where to stay nearby.

 

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth 5th-21st April

Inspired by the new Smuggling exhibitions, enter the smugglers’ den to make your own flintlock pistol, pop-up smuggler and secret chest with a concealed compartment. Plus, search for the concealed contraband hidden around the Museum with the Free Traders’ Trail. Plus, on Easter weekend, make your own bunny and chick masks and pour your own mini chocolate Easter egg.

Stay at this spacious first floor apartment situated in a prestigious waterside development on Falmouth Harbour (sleeps 6).

Wild Futures, Looe 5th-21st April

Take a tour of the monkey enclosures and learn about these fascinating creatures at the Monkey Sanctuary. You can also take a gentle stroll around the woodland gardens, and let the children swing like the monkeys in the play area. Have lunch at the award-winning Treetop café and when the day is done, go back to this lovely 4 bedroom house (sleeps 8) with views over Looe Bay and out to sea.

Eden Project, St Austell 5th-25th April

Chocolate Unwrapped is the Eden Project’s festival telling the story of chocolate, how it was found and how it became so popular in Europe. Visitors will be taken on an interactive journey through the Rainforest Biome to see real cocoa trees and meet characters along the way. Children can also make their own chocolatey creations, and adults will be able to take special chocolatier workshops.

Eat your chocolate delights back at this newly refurbished 3 bedroom house (sleeps 6) with stunning views over St Austell Bay.

Cornwall’s Crealy Great Adventure Park, Wadebridge 5-21st April

The Park is unveiling a £300,000 investment in attractions for the 2014 season. One of its most exciting projects is a new area for toddlers and pre-school children open in time for the Easter holidays. Swampy and Dina Land is a 2,000 sq m enclosed area with rides and play areas for children under the age of five.

Stay at this 2 bedroom apartment (sleeps 4)  with a sun trap patio situated in the idyllic hamlet of Little Petherick. Close to the famous Camel Trail and the fishing village of Padstow.

Newquay Zoo, Newquay 5th-20th April

With a programme of family activities including duck races, egg hunts and animal workshops, there’s lots to do at the Newquay Zoo. On 14th April Michaela Strachan will be there with her Wild Adventures Show, which visitors can go to at no extra charge. On the Easter weekend there is an egg trail in the Dragon Maze, and don’t forget to join the Easter Bunny tea party at 1pm on Sunday 20th April.

Close to Fistral beach and Newquay town centre, stay at this 2 bedroom mews house (sleeps 4). Perfect for beach holidays and a spot of golfing.

Tintagel Castle, Tintagel 18th-21st April

Get hands-on with history this Easter weekend. Young adventurers will be needed to crack clues and explore hidden corners of Tintagel Castle on this exciting quest. Those who succeed will receive a delicious chocolate reward.

Take your prize home to this smart detached cottage (sleeps 6) a mile west of Tintagel.

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2014 Spring Steam Gala 27th- 30th March

Ride on the visiting locomotives of days-gone-by as part of the Spring Steam Gala, taking place from Thursday 27th – Sunday 30th March.

The Gala will feature locomotives used on the ‘Withered Arm’ (so-called because the network looked like the withered arm of a tree) and a recreation of the ‘Atlantic Coast Express’ supported by the WSR Home Fleet Steam Locomotives. There are lots of journeys to choose from, and you can also further enhance your journey by downloading the Heritage Hunter’ app which takes you through the history of the railways using interactive augmented reality. For more information, a timetable and to book your train tickets go here.

Stay at this semi-detached former farmhouse in Hatch Beauchamp, a little conservation village nestled in rolling farmland between Taunton and Ilminster. A short walk from the pub, restaurant and children’s playground, the property is by fields and cider orchards. Downstairs there is a large Shaker-style kitchen/dining room with pantry, and also a living room with a piano, and a downstairs loo. Upstairs there are three bedrooms, a double, a family room with double and a single bed and a bunk room. There is also a family bathroom. Outside you can enjoy a pretty, enclosed garden with lawn and small patio. There’s a rustic games barn with table tennis, darts and storage for bicycles.

View from outside

Kitchen/dining room

Double bedroom

Garden

 

 

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Clovelly Fantastic Fudge Hunt 18th March – 27th April

Clovelly picture by Flickr user xlibber

Clovelly picture by Flickr user xlibber

If you have a sweet tooth and love free things then look no further than the Fantastic Fudge Hunt, Clovelly, North Devon, 18th March to 27th April!

20 fudge stones will be hidden in the village each day. Find one and take it to the Fudge Shop at the Visitor Centre to discover how much fudge you have won. Whoever finds Number 20 will get a whole kilo of fudge, made up of eight different flavours! One stone is redeemable per visiting family each day, but you can try again the next day and see if you’re lucky more than once.

Clovelly is a famous cobbled, cliffside, traffic-free village with a picturesque high street that winds down through to a small harbour. There are pubs, a museum, shops and seasonal fishing and day trips to Lundy Island.

3 miles out of the village and surrounded by flower-filled hedgerows and close to a magnificent stretch of coast is this luxurious cottage converted from old barns (sleeps 3). Designed to a high specification, the accommodation looks like it’s been taken straight out of an interior decoration magazine. There are two ground floor bedrooms, a double and a single with en suite shower room, plus a main bathroom. The stairs lead up to an open-plan living/dining room and fitted kitchen. The high ceilings reveal the lovely original exposed beams, and there are French windows with steps down to the private garden.

Book now and save 20% on the remaining weeks in April.

Living/dining room

Fitted kitchen

Double bedroom

 

 

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Exeter Vibraphonic Festival 14th-29th March

Exeter is hosting the Vibraphonic Festival for two weeks starting this Friday 14th until Saturday 29th March.

The festival covers reggae, soul, urban, jazz, funk, blues, hip hop, drum & bass, electronica and experimental music across the city. There are around 20 live music venues taking part, including the Exeter Phoenix, the Cavern, Barnfield and many more.

A wide variety of artists and DJs are expected and there are also workshops, demonstrations, dance performances, films and graffiti art.

The first acts announced are Dreadzone, Son Of Dave, Get Rich Quick & Festival Scratch Orchestra, Larry Miller, Craig Charles, Lee Scratch Perry, Tcha Limberger’s Budapest Gypsy Orchestra, and Salsa Celtica. Ticket prices vary and can be bought at the venues or through local ticket outlets.

Once you’re all danced out, you could rest your weary feet at nearby Ottery St Mary in this lovely Helpful Holidays Grade II listed town house (sleeps 4). Smart and comfortable with wooden floors throughout, a long, elegant hall leads to an L-shaped living/dining room and kitchen. French windows open to a small patio area. There’s a downstairs loo then oak stairs lead to the first floor with with one double and one single room and a luxurious bathroom. On the second floor there is another double bedroom with en suite shower room with 2 steps to a small, private roof terrace with views over the town.

Situated right in the heart of Ottery St Mary, you are minutes away from shops and have a perfect base for exploring the gardens and beaches of East Devon.

Front view

Kitchen/dining area

Double bedroom

Beautiful private roof terrace

 

 

 

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Cornish Magnolias signal in Spring

It’s officially Spring! The season has been fully declared now that the seven Magnolia campbellii trees from seven gardens in Cornwall have flowered with at least fifty blooms. 

Cornwall is the only place to see the flowering magnolia trees in the UK at this time of year, and it’s a wonderful sight to behold. VisitCornwall have a lovely introductory video to give more information on the blooms and a glimpse of their current phase in some of the magical gardens across Cornwall.

Now is a great time to visit Cornwall. The weather is milder and the sun sets later, so time starts to take on a slower quality, allowing for longer walks and visits to the many Cornish gardens in full springtime bloom.

Trengwainton is one of the gardens where you’ll be lucky  enough to see the magnolias; and with 25 acres to explore you’ll encounter rhododendrons and camellias, a walled kitchen garden, winding wooded paths, dappling streams and open views across Mount’s Bay.

Walled garden at Trengwainton. Picture by Flickr user treehouse1977

Walled garden at Trengwainton. Picture by Flickr user treehouse1977

Rest your weary feet at The Retreat in the tiny hamlet of Badger’s Cross, near Penzance. A semi-detached converted barn with views of Mount’s Bay and Newlyn Harbour. It offers the benefits of countryside living with seaside pleasures.

Sleeps 6-8 plus a cot, the ground floor accommodation consists of a well-equipped kitchen/diner, shower room with WC, and twin en suite bedroom adjacent to the bunk-bed room. Upstairs is the master bedroom and a lounge with a sofabed and stunning countryside and coastal views.

The Retreat - view from outside

The Retreat – view from outside

Kitchen/diner

Kitchen/diner

Lounge

Lounge

 

 

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e-Luminate Festival Cambridge

'Colour Shift' at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

‘Colour Shift’ at e-Luminate. Picture by Elisa Artesero

I had the pleasure of visiting Cambridge for the annual e-Luminate Festival of light art and technology this weekend (the festival continues until 23rd February).

It was my first time in the pretty city and it was a flying visit, quite literally at times, as it was windy! We started with a Trail of Light, a walking tour of the Cambridge College Chapels. All participants were given an LED flashing light to create a line of light as we walked across from chapel to chapel. Once inside, we were given a performance by either a choir, or my personal favourite, organ music, which echoed through the candlelit chapels and their high vaulted ceilings.

There were quite a few light installations and projections throughout the city, the most impressive was Colour Shift by Susie Olczak, a wash of changing colours across the facade of King’s College. It really highlighted the architecture, creating harsh shadows to emphasise the detailed cuts of the stone.

Saturday was a bright and sunny day, and really gave us the chance to explore and get a feel for the place. There was a market selling local produce, second-hand LPs, clothes and jewellery. The city is famous for its literature festival and in keeping with this, there were plenty of bookshops to be discovered down tiny side streets and in hidden courtyards, many selling rare books of antiquity.

We had a lovely lunch of fish and chips at The Eagle pub. Dating back to 1667, the pub is most famous as the place where James Watson and Francis Crick first announced they had ‘discovered the secret of life’ – DNA. Regardless of that, it was popular yet cosy once you found a seat. We were quite lucky to get one, and would advise getting there just after midday if you’re to find a table also, as many visitors who arrived after 12.30pm were disappointed.

All in all my visit to Cambridge was a success, and anyone interested in interesting architecture, particularly religious buildings, would do well to visit. I think it would work well as part of a longer visit to the area, so it would be a good idea to rent a holiday cottage outside of the centre to allow for visits to the surrounding countryside. 

Orchard Cottage (sleeps up to 7) is a beautifully restored and tastefully furnished 18th Century cottage with half an acre of garden of mainly trees and lawn where you can, if you wish, play croquet, badminton and quoits. It is in a rural situation with a farm opposite and fields around, but is close to travel to Cambridge, Rutland Water and Stamford.

The cottage has three double bedrooms (master bedroom has en suite shower room), study, sitting room with inglenook fireplace and well-concealed television; large kitchen with Rayburn, microwave oven, dishwasher, washer/drier etc, and conservatory. The furniture is antique even the bathroom has Victorian fittings.

Orchard Cottage

Orchard Cottage

Beautifully presented bedroom

Beautifully presented bedroom

 

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“Ghost Peloton” to celebrate Grand Depart

Fifty cyclists lit with LEDs will take part in a “ghost peloton” in Leeds as part of a festival to celebrate and welcome in the Tour de France Grand Depart.

The £2m Yorkshire Festival will include 47 different bicycle-themed projects, including installations, performances, photography exhibitions and screenings.

The festival will run from 27th March to 6th July, with the Tour’s Grand Depart taking place in Leeds on 5th July before spending two days racing through places like Harrogate, York and Sheffield.

Yorkshire Festival executive producer Henrietta Duckworth said: “The race is not just about those two days of epic exertion by men in lycra.

“This is an opportunity to engage people with a programme of work that will capture the imagination, trigger some excitable and enjoyable activities and give people a chance to get involved in the Grand Depart in the 100 days leading up to the actual race.”

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Two new sculptures by Thomas Houseago, one for Leeds city centre and the other for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
  • Large-scale grass-based land art installations will be created along the route of the second day of the Tour de France.
  • A “tour de cinema” will include film screenings in 35 town halls and 10 outdoor locations.
  • A songwriting relay will create folk songs and take them from town to town by bicycle.
  • Maxine Peake will make her stage scriptwriting debut at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with a play about cyclist Beryl Burton.
  • The White Cloth Gallery in Leeds will host an exhibition of photographs of the Tour from the 1960s to the present day.
  • Belgian theatre company Theater Tol will perform an aerial show about Italian cyclists Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi in Dewsbury.

After the Tour’s opening two stages in Yorkshire, the third stage will go from Cambridge to London before the race moves to France.

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