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Competition time! Win tickets to Oakwood Theme Park

Yee-Haa! Staff at Oakwood Theme Park

Yee-Haa! Staff at Oakwood Theme Park



It’s a “yee-haa!” welcome at the Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire! Staff at the Theme Park joined in the ‘cowboy’ theme to mark the official completion and opening of a newly themed Wild West area, complete with saloon, at the park recently.

The park opened 25 years ago with a ‘cowboy’ theme, so it only seems fitting that on this momentous anniversary there should be another area with this theme.

As part of the celebrations, staff donned stetsons and even took part in an impromptu line dance!

Oakwood Theme Park’s Anthony Crowdie said: “We’re all delighted with the way the new-look Wild West area has turned out. It really recreates the feel of a typical frontier US town.

“We decided to re-theme the area following requests from members of the public. It certainly seems to have gone down well with our visitors and we have had a number of people commenting on how good it looks.

“It’s also clearly got the thumbs up from our staff who didn’t take very much persuading to dress up and take part in their own version of line dancing to celebrate its unveiling!” he added.

The park is planning a series of special events and celebrations to mark the anniversary. Exciting added attractions for 2012 also include extended late-night opening in July and August with fireworks finales and the return of the hugely popular High Diving Show for the summer.

To enter the competition to win free tickets to Oakwood Theme Park, just get your hands on the latest copy of Holiday Villas and Cottages Magazine!


Staff practice their line dancing!

Staff practice their line dancing!


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New look, new treasures

One of the largest-ever museum redevelopments in the UK will be opened on 29 July when the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh reveals its spectacularly redeveloped Victorian galleries.

The aim is to take visitors on an inspiring journey through cultures across the world, the wonders of nature and the excitement of science and discovery. Displays include 8,000 newly selected objects from the museum’s extensive collections.

The Museum was founded in the mid-19th century and has its roots in the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment. When it opened its first bespoke buildings in 1866, it reflected Victorian ideals of education and sought to show the world under one roof.

Visitors to the new museum begin their journey in the atmospheric new street level vaulted entrance hall, then progress to the stunning Grand Gallery atrium, which has a range of spectacular large objects at floor level, including a marble statue of engineer James Watt and a lighthouse optic designed by the Stevenson dynasty.

The museum’s single largest installation is the Window on the World, a soaring display of over 800 objects which rises up over four storeys. It gives a foretaste of the inspiring themes in the galleries beyond; from the jaws of a spermwhale inscribed with the largest ‘scrimshaw’ carving in the world to the Pembridge helm, one of only four surviving 13th century knight’s helmets.

The Discoveries gallery tells the story of pioneering Scots who have revolutionised the modern world, including Sir Alexander Fleming, James Watt, Charles Darwin and John Logie Baird.

In the galleries of the natural world hundreds of zoological and geological specimens are displayed, ranging from a 4.5 billion year old meteorite from Mars that has been extensively researched for signs of life, to a breathtaking wildlife panorama suspended in mid air, a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a great white shark.

Finally, the world cultures galleries give an insight into the lives and cultures of people across the world. They display internationally important artefacts and outline some of the stories behind the early collections.

The redesign is the work of award-winning practice Gareth Hoskins Architects and international exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum.

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Pier’s back

Grand pier

Just two years after it was devastated by fire, the pier at Weston-super-Mare was due to re-open as we went to press. A £51 million refit has left the pier well equipped to meet the needs of 21st century holidaymakers, with new high-tech rides and games, including two genuine formula one simulators where drivers can see just how good they really are.

The pier’s owners, brother and sister Kerry and Michelle Michael, are aiming high with the ambitious project. They want the pier to be an all-year attraction,with a hall large enough to hold 3,000 people for concerts or 1,000 for banquets, as well as conference facilities. Traditional holiday visitors and day-trippers will be catered for by the amusement park, which includes 18 rides, as well as 26 shops and food outlets.

Entrance to the pier remains free, so it will be possible simply to stroll out to sea or sit in the sun, but the Michaels hope the wide range of attractions will see 3.5 million visitors a year spending an average of £4.60 each.

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Late booking boost


A combination of good early summer weather and economic uncertainty produced a late booking surge for UK-based holidays, with many people leaving their holiday decisions to the last minute.

The General Manager of Visit Devon, Rosie Bates, says that there are complex reasons for this trend: “Uncertainty about the economic future and the emergency budget led many people to delay making a decision about their holidays this year. The exchange rate with the euro and dollar and the problems with air travel have all helped to encourage people to holiday at home. On the positive side the good weather has definitely helped attract visitors to make late bookings for holidays in Devon.”

The surge in UK holidays follows news that last year the number of trips made by Brits to foreign countries fell at the fastest rate since the 1970s, according to the Office for National Statistics.

In 2009 the ONS recorded 58.6 million trips, down from 69 million in 2008, and says the number of foreign visitors coming to Britain also fell, though only from 31.1 million to 29.9 million. That’s in sharp contrast to the previous 25 years, when trips abroad grew on average by 4 per cent a year and trips into the UK by 3.2 per cent.

Click here to view list of reports from ONS

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Ride, stride and support

Explore the English countryside

There’s another opportunity in September to explore and enjoy the English countryside by taking part in Ride+Stride, a sponsored walk or bike ride between 10,000 participating churches. The event involves over 13,000 people of all ages, crosses 34 counties and opens the doors to some of the landscape’s most unusual and unknown churches.

The event has run each year since it began in Suffolk in 1981, and last year’s event raised £1.5 million for church restoration. This year’s event was on Saturday 11 September, with churches open from 10am – 6pm. The idea is that you sign up with the Churches Trust in your chosen county and find sponsors for your walk or ride between whichever churches you fancy. The route can be as long or short as you like, visiting two, or however many more you like, churches. The sponsorship money can all go to your favourite church, or to all the churches in that county.

Cyclists and walkers lucky enough to live in Cumbria, or planning to be on holiday there, might like to put together a route including the charming Newlands Church in the hamlet of Littletown; Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy Winkle was dedicated to the Vicar’s daughter. In Dorset, participants could head over to Loders’ St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, to offer sympathy and support to its gargoyle with toothache.

Riders and striders in Wiltshire can picnic by Bremilham Church in Cowage farmyard, the tiniest church in the UK, which has one pew and seats four. Or over to Kent and spend the day on Romney Marsh visiting St Clements Church, Old Romney which boasts pale pink pews, having been painted for the filming of Dr Syn in the 1960s, and which were kept because the parishioners liked them. Or wander to St Thomas a Becket in Fairfield, which sits in the middle of a meadow that was only accessible by boat until the 1960s.

Ride+Stride is ideal for the young and old, the energetic and the more relaxed. In 2009, the oldest participant was a 101 year old lady from Oxfordshire who walked between six churches in hilly countryside; the youngest was still in his push chair. Some walk between two and three churches, others are more ambitious – one inspired rambler spent two weeks running 630 miles along the South West Coastal Path from his local church, St John the Baptist, Buckhorn Weston, to Poole in Dorset.

There is also the opportunity to relax and recharge between journeys, with most churches offering a display of snacks and drinks, from cakes and biscuits to home grown plums and orange squash. In fact, you don’t even need to participate in the main event, as this is an ideal opportunity simply to visit a church, knowing it – and its collection box! – will be open.

Ride+Stride helps preserve some of Britain’s 47,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses. Many historical landmarks are falling into severe disrepair and need our help. The event is supported by The National Churches Trust, in partnership with County Churches Trusts nationwide. Keen cyclist and Channel 4 news presenter, Jon Snow, is the patron. Another keen supporter is author Bill Bryson, who said: “No feature of the English countryside is more important, or potentially more vulnerable, than its churches. That’s why I am so delighted to support Ride+Stride.”

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New Issue of Holiday Cottages Magazine now out – Issue 39

We’ve just finished a new issue of Holiday Cottages Magazine. Issue 39 will hit the shops shortly, and you can also read the whole issue online via Zmags.

New issue of Holiday Cottages Magazine – Issue 38 available now

We’ve just finished Holiday Cottages Magazine issue 38. It’ll be available in all good UK newsagents later this week, but we’ve also put the whole thing online for you as an electronic magazine. We hope you enjoy reading it… We’ve loads of features this month. I’ll be going through each over the next few days here on the blog.

Holiday Cottages Magazine Issue 35 – Online now

Issue 35 of Holiday Cottages Magazine will hit the shelves on the 15th of August 2008 – available in WHSmiths, Sainsbury’s, and all good newsagents. You can also read the complete magazine online, anywhere in the world. We’ve created a virtual copy of the magazine, using state-of-the-art page-turning technology from Z-mags. Click on the copy below to begin reading… We’d love to know what you think of this latest issue – so please feel free to add a comment below!