Tag : uk

london paris bike ride

The London to Paris Charity Cycle

Are you considering a trip in Europe in the near future? Are you busy looking into rail passes, bus tickets, and flight deals? Well, there are certainly many ways to travel around Europe, but when it comes to getting from London to Paris, there is one way that you may have not considered: cycling! The London to Paris Charity Cycle definitely requires a little more leg power than other forms of transportation, but the pay-off is enormous!

london paris bike ride

What is the London to Paris Bike Ride?

The London to Paris Bike Ride is a 5 day charity cycle that offers an amazingly unique and challenging experience to all participants. Participants are able to select a charity of their choice (the organizers work with over 500 charities, and are always creating new partnerships), raise money for their chosen charity, and then carry out the almost 500km bike ride from London to Paris. The route is organized in a way that makes sure participants will see as much of the beautiful countryside as possible and it passes important landmarks such as World War I battlefields, historic towns, and gothic churches.

Who can participate in the London to Paris Bike Ride?

The minimum age to participate is 18. There is no age maximum, though those over age 65 are asked to get a medical form signed by their doctor. You do not need to be a professional cyclist to join the challenge! The majority of participants are of average fitness level, and are simply looking for a healthy way to meet new people, challenge themselves, and raise money for a cause that is close to their heart. Support vehicles are always nearby to help out, and will make sure no one gets left behind! If you are a vegetarian, or have any dietary restrictions, don’t worry! Meals can be catered to accommodate any special needs. All participants are asked to raise a minimum of £1,450 for their selected charity in order to take part in the challenge, and there is an additional £99 deposit required. Organizers will provide guidance to help you meet your fundraising goal.

What do I need?

Naturally, you will need a bike. While renting a bike is always a possibility, it is suggested that you use a bike of your own, so that you have the opportunity to train and get comfortable with it before your big ride. It’s also always a good idea to familiarize yourself with basic bike repair; simple repair kits are light and easy to carry. However, there will be mechanics on hand should you need them. In order to participate in the challenge, you will also need proof of travel insurance. This can be obtained on your own, or with the help of the challenge organizers. Meals are included in the trip (with the exception of dinner on the ferry to France, and lunch and dinner on the final day in Paris), as are accommodations, luggage transport, ferry travel to France, and return travel to London on a Eurostar train. Upon registering, participants will be provided with a comprehensive packing list.

How do I sign up?

London to Paris Charity Cycles takes place during various periods throughout the year. The next scheduled event will be taking place from September 4th-8th 2013, and then one will be happening from September 18th-22nd. Places are limited, and can fill up quickly, so don’t wait until the last minute! Booking can be done online. Free informational packages can also be ordered for those who would like more detailed information and testimonials.

Categories: Blog, Inspiration

Five tourist tips for Newcastle

Travelling to Newcastle? If you’ve never been to the great northern city, and are spending a few days for fun and leisure, you may need a few pointers. It’s come a long way since the industrial hub that it once was, and is a city that embraces old and new equally. Here are five things to do in Newcastle:

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Alnwick Castle

A visit to Alnwick Castle is one of the rare chances to visit an inhabited castle (it’s the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland). Parts of the Harry Potter films were shot here, and Potter-based tours are run in the grounds (with lookalikes!), so it’s a perfect trip for a family with young or not-so-young fans. For the grownups, there’s a chance to see the state rooms, art and gardens.


The Victoria Tunnel

War history buffs will be enthralled by the Victoria Tunnel, which began life as a way to transport coal beneath the city and was converted into an air-raid shelter during World War II. The tours recreate the atmosphere in different times in the Tunnel’s history with sounds of air raids and colliery wagons.


River Cruises

The city’s lifeblood, the River Tyne has served the city for hundreds of years. These days, it’s the most relaxing way to take in the city’s fantastic architectural landmarks – a mix of modern and historical – while hearing about the city’s long and varied history from knowledgeable guides.


BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

The biggest art gallery of its kind in the world, BALTIC is housed in a large former industrial building, and has a packed calendar full of exhibitions and events, providing a fascinating insight into the cutting edge of contemporary arts practice, from local and international artists. Plus there is a brand new rooftop restaurant and a café/bar for when you need a break.


Gusto Restaurant and Bar

With a brilliant Quayside location, Gusto offers Italian food, with both traditional favourites and contemporary classics, along with an extensive drinks list and highly skilled bartenders. Its décor – influenced by glam New York retro interiors – is certain to make you feel like a star. Nab a booth and enjoy a top-notch evening.


Vivienne Egan writes for FHR who provide Newcastle Airport Parking – http://www.fhr-net.co.uk/airport-parking/newcastle-airport-parking/

Categories: Blog, Inspiration

Fixed up Abroad: 5 Countries with the Highest Quality Healthcare

The UK receives a great deal of attention for its universal, tax-funded healthcare system. Through nationwide contributions, the government is able to provide greatly reduced rates for its citizens on procedures ranging from cardiac and pulmonary surgery to tummy tucks and laser eye treatments in manchester. That being said, on a global scale, if you’re looking to travel abroad for an operation, it helps to have options. The UK’s healthcare system is truly fine, but surprisingly, the World Health report has it listed in spot #18. Fortunately for the European traveler, the top five are all in western Europe.

5. MaltaBecause Malta is an island, it already has a tourism-minded attitude. The hospitals have an elegant atmosphere and are staffed with US- and UK-trained specialists. Its small size makes medical facilities easy to access, and it boasts no waiting lines. This also means it doesn’t take long to get to the beach and unwind after the procedure.

4. AndorraThe big perk of visiting Andorra is that it does not require citizens of the USA, Canada, UK/EU and Australia to procure visas for visits up to 3 months. That makes it an excellent place for major surgery requiring longer recovery periods. Also, considering Andorra has the highest life expectancy in the world, you can imagine they’ve got something right.

3. San Marino

Not only does the Most Serene Republic of San Marino have the distinction of being the third smallest country in Europe, but it also has the third best healthcare system in the world. It can be an excellent alternative if you find yourself by the Adriatic coast and have trouble finding a hospital. That being said, you may not need to visit San Marino if you’re already in…

2. Italy

Apart from having one of the best healthcare systems in the world, Italy also may be one of the nicest places to convalesce after your procedure. The Mediterranean climate and relaxed lifestyle (not to mention the food) make this an excellent place to combine healing with fun.

1. France

After centuries of cultural rivalry with the UK, France has pulled ahead in healthcare. Combining public and private healthcare funding, France offers substantially lower prices than much of the rest of Europe, one more reason to smile in this romantic country. They’ll help straighten that smile too, if you want.

Categories: Travel Tips

Unusual things to do in London

Tourist handbooks and websites will most likely give you a good idea of the main attractions in London. But what about the lesser-known wonders of the big city? Try some of these ideas for a memorable trip to the UK’s capital.

Step back in time at Dennis Severs House 

Dennis Severs House is intended to make you feel as though you’re walking through an old painting. Designed by the late Dennis Severs as a habitable home, the house was made to look and operate as it would have done in the early 18th Century. Candlelight and an open fire are the only sources of light within the house and each of the rooms is styled to reflect a different period of London’s history.

Take one of the house’s Silent Night tours where you explore the building in silence and then enjoy a glass of champagne and a chat with the curator.


Visit Europe’s oldest operating theatre

Hidden in the roof space of an English Baroque church lays Europe’s oldest operating theatre. The word ‘theatre’ is well-placed to describe this bizarre space as the room received its fair share of attention in its time. Medical students would frequently visit the theatre to witness operations and learn from their more experienced colleagues. Tours of the space may be slightly morbid, so don’t eat in advance!


Take a language class 

London is a diverse city with tourists visiting from all over the world. Why not try your hand at a new language during your stay and expand your knowledge of a different culture? Tourists and locals alike can visit UIC London to discover a full range of language courses to suit all levels. For those seeking German courses in London, there are a wide range of groups and services all across the city.


Work up a sweat while sight-seeing

Fancy an outing which will keep you fit? City Jogging Tours will keep you on the go while showing you the best of iconic London. The 6km tour starts at Nelson’s Column on Trafalgar Square and will take you around some of the most famous sights in the city.


Take a pie-making class

 manonthelam_2Marika’s Kitchen offers expert pie-making classes, using only fresh ingredients, for small groups looking to experience one of England’s culinary treasures. Pies have a strong presence in British history, almost becoming an art form during the reign of Henry VIII. Master the essential techniques of pie-making and recreate your London experience whenever you like.

Enjoy Richmond Park on horseback

One of the most beautiful public grounds in London, Richmond Park is far too large to experience in just one day. However, on horseback it’s a real delight which allows you to see the best of the grounds at your leisure. Kingston Riding Centre offers horse tours with experienced horse-back guides – making your visit a memorable one.


Go bowling, retro-style

The Shake, Rattle and Bowl combines the best music of the 50’s and 60’s with some great American food. Opened in 2006, the diner attracts locals and tourists alike for bowling, dancing and fun.


Categories: Blog, Inspiration, Travel Tips

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Top 5 things to do in Somerset

The success of the London Olympics has seen scores of people pack their bags for a trip to the UK.  If you’re in the course of planning a trip, make a beeline for Somerset in south west England.  Within easy reach of the capital for a day packed with culture and close to the stunning beaches of the south coast, Somerset is the perfect location to make the most of the UK.

Check out our top five things to do in Somerset…

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Cheese, cheese, cheese!

No visit to Somerset is complete without a trip to the famous village of Cheddar, which gives the UK’s favourite cheese its name.  At the bottom of the gorge you can watch cheese being made in the same way as it has been for centuries; don’t forget to sample some as you leave.  Explore Wookey Hole Caves at the top of the gorge for a spooky family day out.  For gorgeous views down the gorge and over the Mendip Hills, climb the 322 steps to the top of the Lookout Tour; it’s well worth the effort!



Known affectionately by the locals as Weston-super-MUD for the colour of the sand when the tide goes out, Weston is the place for a traditional seaside holiday.  Enjoy fish and chips on the recently renovated pier with far-reaching views along the coast.  At the end of the pier you’ll find an indoor theme park complete with old-fashioned amusements and rides for the more adventurous.  Your day won’t be complete without an ice-cream on the beach while the children enjoy a fast-paced donkey ride.

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Bathe like a Roman

Enjoy a day of culture in historic Bath; start at the Abbey and work your way towards the famous Royal Crescent.  After a long day pounding the cobbled streets, why not spend a relaxing few hours in the newly-opened thermal spa?  Bath is famous for its naturally hot springs and you can now splash around in the mineral-rich waters just as the Romans did.  You’ll leave feeling as though all your cares have been washed away; what could feel better?


Tackle the Tor

Glastonbury Tor has been said for centuries to have magical properties; indeed it is said that people complete their descent feeling renewed.  Whether or not you believe in the mumbo jumbo surrounding the Tor, it’s well worth a climb on a clear day or as the sun is setting.  Enjoy the stunning views over the local area; you may even be able to hear the music from the nearby festival if you visit in June.


Get outdoors

Adventure seekers will find plenty to keep the adrenaline levels high in the Exmoor National Park.  Explore the wonderful landscape on two wheels or lace up your walking boots for an invigorating hike.  There’s plenty of water-based activities too if that’s more your thing from canoeing to coasteering for the more adventurous.  Choose from a great selection of fantastic cottages to rent in Somerset to enjoy your time in this great county.  After an exhausting day in the National Park, you’ll be glad to head back to your holiday cottage for some well-earned relaxation.


Photo Attribution

Royal Crescent: http://www.flickr.com/photos/photographygal123/4481571381/sizes/z/in/photostream/


Fish and chips: http://www.flickr.com/photos/f10n4/186861991/sizes/m/in/photostream/


Categories: Blog

Changing of the guard london

5 Things To Do For Free in London

Check out the view from Parliament Hill in Hampstead

The view from Hampstead’s Parliament Hill is a top contending rival when compared to the vastly more extortionate Eye of London panorama. This open parkland has made a name for itself as a homey haven just north of London, boating views of Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London skyline. Be sure to look out for the flock of pink flamingos that inhabit the hill!

Changing of the guard london

Changing ouf the Guard in London

Board the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾

Don’t be late the train leaves exactly at 11 o’clock! Just kidding, if you were a fan of the series, don’t miss your opportunity to get wizardy at Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station. Posing with the semi vanished trolley will be like stepping into the wonder of the book all over again.


Watch the changing of the guards

A must see in London and for free! Yep, you heard it right. The Changing of the Guard happens every day at 11:30am in the summer and every other day in the winter. The Queens Royal Guard switches with a symbolic handing-over of the palace keys. There is a live drum line and, often times, other live music!


Become the victim of a Convent Garden street performer

The Covent Garden Market is home to a multifaceted array of street performers that make it their duty to entertain the patrons of the area each afternoon. While they may mean to entertain, they do have the tendency to call on random audience members to help in their acts! It’s all fun and games until you are made to kiss a stranger in front of a sizeable crowd. That’ll almost make you regret going to English School in London…


Peruse the shops at Camden Market

While the shopping factor of this excursion may not be free of charge, it doesn’t cost a single pence to browse through the handcrafted gifts and vintage wear that line the street on weekends. Attracting 100,000 visitors each weekend, the market is well known for its casual vibe and eclectic memorabilia. There is also a good nightlife scene in the area, so be sure to pick up some leaflets at the Camden Town Tube station on your way to the market!


*Carson Lane

Categories: Blog, Travel Tips

The Needles Isle of Wight

Backpacking in the Isle of Wight

Backpacking around the Isle of Wight may not be the most common trip for travelers to take, but let me tell you guys, it’s well worth it!  First up, it’s a great way to experience an English county at a very low cost, giving you a great chance to see more sights with the budget you set aside for the trip.

The Isle of Wight is the largest Island in England located in the English Channel; it offers a host of awesome things to see and do,  from great views, to buzzing theme parks, great beaches and cracking hiking all of which that will suit your budget.  This non-metropolitan county has been one of Britain’s most relaxing holiday destinations since the Victorian era, centuries ago up ad although their tourism has been dwindling, it still has loads to offer!

Backpackers will surely enjoy this county with no pain in their pockets.

The Needles Isle of Wight

The Needles, Isle of Wight


There are a lot of options for accommodation while backpacking in the Isle of Wight. There are different campsites available close to the main resorts, beaches and parks in the county and it will cost you less to rent and tent site than a round of beers in London! Backpackers can also find several hostel chains that are perfect for all their comfort needs on the Island. Also don’t forget couch-surfingl it’s increasingly getting popular to backpackers around the world, so why not take advantage of this awesome website and link yourself with couch hosts? It’s a great way to find locals and socialize with them and have a little bit of culture exchange while you’re at it.



There are many ways to reach the Isle of Wight from trains, bus, boats, or by plane. You can choose your option on how you want to get there as long as it suits your travel budget, personally i love the ferries to Isle of Wight the most. Planning your day here couldn’t be easier, you can get around using local transport without any bother, buses are often less than $2 a ride. Renting a bicycle is a popular choice too, cycling the coastline is nothing short of beautiful but some of those hills will get your calf muscles burning! Finally, you can always hit the road on your two feet (shock horror!), there are few places with less traffic in all of the UK so get marching and absorb that fresh air.



Quick word of warning here folks, food in the Isle of Wight served in restaurants doesn’t really come cheap, although still a heck of a lot cheaper than the mainland.  As a backpacker though, you get used to eating budget meals on the street. Local mobile street foods are a great way to encounter local dishes and enjoy dining outdoors, although this isn’t exactly Bangkok or Peru. Street food here is more fish and chips or a hamburger!



The isle of Wight may not be jam packed with things to see, but there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for a couple of days. Here are 3 of the highlights:

The Needles: Iconic stalks of chalk off the coast, an absolute must-see for all visitors

Osbourne house: Home to none other than England’s longest reigning Monarch, Queen Victoria!

Carisbrooke Castle: 800 years of history, right in the centre of the island.

Categories: Blog, Inspiration, Packing, Travel Tips

Manchester Northen Quarter

Manchester: Vintage Shopping Heaven

Essential vintage shopping stops around the city’s Northern Quarter

Centred around Oldham Street, Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the city’s thriving boho haven. Packed with independent stores, delis, bars and venues, no trip to the city’s complete without a rummage round some of the area’s many, many vintage shops. If it’s your first trip to the city, a train to Manchester’s Piccadilly Station will drop you right at the door. Here’s our pick of the vintage bunch, offering up everything from clothing to records and retro home furnishings.

Manchester Northen Quarter

Shop til you drop without the guilt

Oxfam Originals on Oldham Street gives you the excuse to splurge while still racking up the good karma. This branch of Oxfam charity shop is dedicated to cool vintage threads, as well as vintage-style garments. It’s pricier than your average Oxfam, as you’d expect, but it’s still a lot cheaper than your vintage boutiques. You’ll find a mixture of new and old, with some high-end vintage gold in between. If you’re on the lookout for books, records and kitschy bric-a-brac, check out their sister store, Oxfam Emporium, just down the road.


Girls only

Retro Rehab is a womenswear clothing store that ain’t afraid to flaunt its pretty bows and girly frills. You won’t find ratty old tshirts and jeans in here, but you will find gorgeous vintage dresses, heels, silk jumpsuits and feminine fabrics galore. Alongside their vintage range, this store on Oldham Street also stocks original pieces, as well as jewellery, accessories, gifts and handcrafted soft toys.


New arrivals

With store in Birmingham, Sheffield and Nottingham, Cow is the newest addition to the Northern Quarter’s thriving vintage scene. Located at Piccadilly Gardens, just next to M&S, the store specialises in affordable vintage, which they source from all over the world. Their latest delivery arrived from Italy this month, including a bunch of designer vintage from the likes of D&G and Ralph Lauren. As well as their fantastic vintage range, Cow also puts on special events If you skip this store, you can check out their eBay shop too, where they tend to stick some of their pricier high-end items.

Piccadilly Gardens Manchester

Milkshake fix

Head up Fountain Street to Church Street and you’ll arrive at Manchester’s most eclectic shopping emporium. Affleck’s was founded in 1982 and is a self-proclaimed “thorn in the side of the high street”. Four floors crammed with a range of boutiques selling vintage fashions, new independent clothing, home furnishings, and more, there’s also a couple of tattoo and piercing studios, and you can have your tarot cards read too. If you’re looking for a break from shopping, there’s also a couple of places to grab a bite to eat, and a lipsmacking milkshake bar with views over Oldham Street – a great place to people watch.


And if you’re looking to stay in Manchester for a weekend shopping trip, consider a stay at the Crowne Plaza Manchester Airport.

Categories: Blog, Travel Tips