Friday April 18, 2014
What can you expect when two of the three hotels in a scenic seaside village are both under the same ownership? That's the situation in Aldeburgh, the former fishing village on the Suffolk Heritage Coast that Benjamin Britten made famous. Both the 3-star White Lion Hotel and the 4-star Brudenell, which bracket Aldeburgh's half mile long beach, are owned by the same small, Suffolk-based group. I recently stayed in both. Differences? Similarities? Read my reviews and see what you think.
Wednesday April 16, 2014
I wish someone had explained Gas Marks to me before I turned a 26 pound turkey to smoke in two hours flat - in a nice English lady's kitchen.
If you're planning to come over from North America to rent a vacation cottage in the UK, you're going to save a bundle and have a lot of fun living like a local. But there are a few things that work radically differently over here - like cooking temperatures, heat and hot water and what things are called. You could go blue in the face talking at cross purposes while you try to explain why you need a stove to a UK rental agent who thinks the central heating is perfectly adequate. For cooking?!
Don't go nuts and don't burn your supper. Read about How Stuff Works in your UK Vacation Rental Cottage and you'll settle in like a native.
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Tuesday April 15, 2014
People often ask me where they should tour to see pretty English villages, thatched cottages, half-timbering, ancient parish churches, cottage gardens, old fashioned pubs. It's a tough one because they're usually on their way to somewhere and in a hurry. The kind of villages they want to see are all over the place but they're usually not on the way to somewhere else.
Recently, I've been exploring Suffolk and North Essex - a corner of East Anglia close to London. I've discovered that if you want to see the sorts of market towns and sleepy villages that time forgot, this is the place for a ravishing concentration of picturebook hamlets, landscapes worthy of Constable and Reynolds and wild stretches of beach.
I've already reported on my adventures in Finchingfield, Essex; Ipswich, and Flatford Mill. And there will be more about Suffolk - coast and countryside - coming soon.
One good way of seeing a lot of this part of the world is to grab yourself a piece of it for a few days as a base for exploring. The Landmark Trust, a charity that restores and maintains small historic buildings and turns them into vacation rentals, offers some rather unusual opportunities for self-catering in the region. You can get away from the 21st century - even turn the clock all the way back to the 13th century - in some of their properties. I visited myself recently and they won me over.
Check out The Landmark Trust - Short Breaks in Unique Historic Buildings to see why.
© Ferne Arfin
Sunday April 13, 2014
Easter is everywhere - With the holiday weekend looming, you can join an Easter Egg hunt at virtually every stately home in the country, or find some Easter weekend jousting.
How about some Egg Dancing at Blists Hill in Ironbridge Gorge. It's one of my selection of 10 Easter Alternatives for those of you who say bah humbug to bunnies and chicks.
How about a rousing marbles tourney? In Battle, East Sussex, local teams face off against each other for the Battle Marbles Matches at 10am on Good Friday. It all takes place on Battle Green, near Battle Abbey, where, according to traditionWilliam the Conqueror won another battle, the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
Or you could just give in to a chocolate and sugar rush at the Chocolate Festival, taking place in Oxford's ornate town hall on Friday and Saturday. There are tastings galore, a chocolate cafe, a chocolate spa, a "Brownie Zone," a "Health Zone" where you can find out all the ways that chocolate is good for you (I like the sound of that) and all kinds of ridiculously indulgent chocolate activities and treats.
Whatever you decide to do, have a happy Easter Week.
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