Category Archives: Travel

Top 20 Pet bloggers of 2015

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Why not treat your pet to a well-deserved break this summer? If you’re not quite sure where to start, our top 20 pet bloggers have tons of tips on taking your four-legged friends on holiday.

Pawcurious
If you’ve ever wanted a professional opinion on looking after your pet’s health when you’re going away, look no further than vet Jessica Vogelsang’s blog. From getting paperwork in place to ordering medications, it makes for essential reading and might just save you the trauma of a long journey with a car-sick dog. @pawcurious

Montecristo Travels
For a unique take on travel, it’s tough to beat this site. It’s written from the perspective of an eight-inch-tall Chihuahua called Montecristo and describes his escapades. He highlights dog-friendly beaches in the Cyclades and guides dog owners around towns from Dolceacqua in Liguria to Haut-de-Cagnes on the Côte d’Azur. As they say, the best things come in small packages. @montetravels

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The Road Forks
Akila and Patrick’s mission is to travel their way around the world with their dogs, Chewy and Abby. Their blog shows that you really don’t need to leave your faithful friends behind. They have all spent 14 months on the road and visited 18 different countries to date. So yes, you can take your pets from Atlanta to the Peak District, Turkey and Tuscany, and here’s the evidence. @theroadforks

Phileas Dogg
Attlee, aka the “Egon Bone-ay of the canine world”, and his team of Rover Reporters have got their paws on the only travel site in the UK put together by dogs, for dogs. This means that when you’re planning your next getaway, you can get the lowdown on Portwrinkle, Cornwall from Eddie the Tibetan Terrier and the inside line on Newcastle from Elvis the Boxador. @phileasdogg

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For the Love of the Dog Blog
Spaniel fans will melt when they see the pictures of Deanna Raeke’s gorgeous Springers, Jezzie and Bruti. In fact, all animal lovers can learn something from this campaigner’s strong advocacy of animal wellbeing; she highlights the horrors of puppy mills and digs out details of popular plants that might poison your pet. Plus, there are useful instructions for what to do if your pet has a fever. @FTLTD

Alfie’s Blog
Animal enthusiasts are sure to appreciate tales of road trips to the Rainbow Basin and Lake Tahoe by Alfie the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. Do also check out this website’s mental agility games, including elaborate versions of hide and seek, that are a fantastic challenge for any intelligent dog. Plus the lists of Alfie’s favourite toys are perfect for the special pooch in your life. You can study the site’s resources on Alfie’s lovely breed and then take the quiz on them too. Good luck! @AlfieEntle

And A Small Dog
Need inspiration for your jet-setting pet’s next adventure? Then it’s well worth browsing Leila Coe’s pieces. As a travel agent who specialises in arranging animal-friendly holidays, she recommends destinations that should satisfy even the most demanding of pooches. She also gives their owners advice on logistical issues like finding your canine buddy when your airline has mislaid them. @AndASmallDog

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My Brown Newfies
Jennifer Costello’s blog is, as she writes, a blend of “dogs, pet health, pet products, family and totally crazy stories”. From dealing with muddy paws to filling Easter Baskets, it’s a charming read. And the pictures of her Newfoundlands, Leroy and Sherman, are super-cute. @MyBrownNewfies

The Vagabond Adventures
Join Lucie, Lachlan and their Heinz 57, Bow Bow on an epic journey. They visit extraordinary places and offer local communities support; independent traders, for example, can sell goods on their website. The trio also act as ambassadors for a charity called Back to Africa that rescues endangered species like black rhinos from zoos and rehouses them. You can watch the action as it unfolds through their terrific photos and entertaining videos, all of which – obviously – star Bow Wow. @VagabondVenture

The Ramble
Follow the twists and turns of Gigi and her dog Luna’s route through France, Italy and Switzerland. You can download guides to Barcelona and Prague, or discover how to live like a local in Verona and budget for a jaunt to Paris. One particularly interesting piece analyses the unexpected benefits of travelling with a dog. They double as a security guard if you’re a solo traveller and act as an alarm call the morning after a long flight. @gigigriffis

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Untamed Travel
This is a chronicle of life on the road with Zala, a Dutch Shepherd. There is something here for anybody who’s considered hitting the road with a big dog. It features sound advice on which breeds of dog make the best travel companions and where you should head with them. So far, Zala has spent time on tranquil Thai islands, beautiful Italian beaches and in the olive groves of Southern France. @untamedtravels

All Things Dog Blog
A lovely all-rounder blog discussing furry family members and their funny little quirks. Need pointers on how to drive safely with a dog on board? Or how about finding a dog group in a new area? Then this site is a fantastic starting point. And, wherever you are, you can have share training tips fellow dog fans at their regular Twitter Parties. @AllThingsDog

Wag The Dog UK
It won’t just be your dog’s tail wagging once you’ve read these pieces. They offer reviews of apps that track down your dog if they’ve wandered off and a checklist that will help you make sure that your pet travel insurance policy is comprehensive. You can then pick one of their recommended destinations, which range from Wiltshire to Switzerland, and head off with confidence. @wagthedoguk

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DogTipper
An excellent how-to-guide on making the most of life with your dog, both when you’re at home and away. If you’ve ever forgotten to pack chew toys, then you’ll regret not having read the packing list. And the ideas on how to help your dog enjoy the car make the prospect of a relaxed drive, into town or on a major road trip, seem realistic. @DogTipper

That Mutt
Has your dog ever misbehaved when you’re out and about? Then help’s at hand with That Mutt. From keeping your dog calm in public to stopping puppies biting, it includes lots of solutions to many of the most common behavioural problems. There are also nutritious raw food recipes and worthwhile hints on fostering rescue dogs. @thatmutt

Have Dog Blog Will Travel
Meet CeliaSue and her pit bull mix, Cici. A focus of their articles is overcoming the bad reputations of that some breeds have. They provide plenty of tips to help you find appropriate accommodation and  ensure (as much as is possible) that your pet is the model guest. Even if you’re the proud owner of an impeccably behaved Retriever, you’re still sure to find plenty to interest you. @suemagic

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Tales and Tails
Carrie Noar lives in the Midwest with her husband, three Greyhounds and a German Shepherd. She and her youngest dog Bunny “write about the adventures, or misadventures, of our daily life”. Follow their escapades at the Blogpaws conference in Nashville and along the River Trail of Illinois. Comedy often ensues! @houndstooth4

The Pet Blog Lady
This may just be the ultimate celebration of our love for pets. Highlights include posts on animal rescue and heart-warming stories about the human-animal bond. There are also suggestions of perfect places to spend some quality time with your dog; LA’s dog boutiques and pet parks sound amazing. @ThePetBlogLady

How To Travel With Pets
It’s not only dogs who love holidays. If you plan to travel with your bird or fish, then check out How To Travel With Pets. It’s a one-stop-shop for all the lowdown on jaunts with creatures great and small. There are lots of contributions from other pet owners, so why not report back on your experiences too? @foxnomad

The Jet Set Pets
Every pampered pooches’ style bible, this is an inspiring introduction to destinations that are both luxurious and pet-friendly. The only issue (though it is a massive one) is working out whether you and your pet would prefer to spend your next time-off in the stunning Caribbean retreat or hanging out in trendy Budapest. @TheJetSetPets

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Top 10 tennis schools in the UK

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Anyone for tennis? After all, nothing says summer like the lush grass courts of SW19 and the sound of balls flying over the net. If Wimbledon inspires you to pick up your own racket, there are some terrific places for you to hone your skills. Here are our top-seeded tennis schools around the country.

Sutton Tennis Academy, London
If you fancy trying out facilities fit for a pro, look no further than the fantastic Sutton Tennis Academy. Strength-and-conditioning gym? Sure. Physiotherapy clinic? Yep. There are also dance studios that will soon have you twirling around. So whether you’re recovering from an injury or aiming for Novak-Djokovic-level fitness, it’s well worth checking out.

Maidstone Tennis Academy, Kent
Over 15 years, this academy has helped 1000s of juniors and adults to achieve their tennis goals. Some of their spectacular successes include national champions and Junior Wimbledon players. You can follow in their footsteps with some fun match play or join in one of the regular tournaments. The Cardio Tennis sessions will soon get the blood pumping away and your heart rate up too.

Ben Saunders Tennis, Liverpool
Andy Murray’s former coach, Ben Saunders, heads up this fab centre. From tots’ tennis sessions to private classes for adults, there’s something for everyone here. You could take part in the Rusty Racket sessions for beginners and improvers – the outdoor courts are floodlit so you can play well into the balmy summer night. This is the perfect blend of fitness and fun.

KMP Tennis Academy, London
Wannabe Nadals will love KMP’s Spanish Drill training sessions. Here you zigzag backwards and forwards (plus side to side) through V shapes; they help you practise shots and build your fitness. How much will your recovery time improve? And even if you’re not quite at championship level (yet), then there’s a terrific range of other programmes that you can join in the meantime.

North Oxford Lawn Tennis Club, Oxford
Competitive types will thrill to the opportunities this club offers to annihilate their opponents. There are 17 different teams that range from virtual beginners to county-level players. For the ultimate rivalry, sign up for a Sunday-morning family session and you can even take on your relatives.

Jonathan Markson Tennis, London
From single player to family weeks, you’re sure to find the right programme here. You can even pick from a terrific selection of locations, from a summer camp in London to a session in Praia da Luz. These trips blend sightseeing with a great opportunity to brush up your skills.

Halton, Buckinghamshire
It’s difficult to say whether Halton’s tranquil grounds or terrific facilities (including 16 courts and a chic bar) are its biggest selling point: they’re both certainly stunning. While you’re there, you could also register for a wide selection of health and fitness classes from pilates to personal training sessions.

Ealing Lawn Tennis Club, London
Dating back to 1882, today’s Ealing Lawn Tennis Club boasts mod cons of a decidedly 21st-century nature. Do check out the all-weather astroturf court and fully accessible facilities for disabled users. In fact, they also run wheelchair tennis events and can provide specially designed chairs. It’s a really friendly club with a buzzing social scene full of live entertainment and delicious food.

Bromley Tennis Centre, Kent
Anyone can just book a court and start knocking a ball around at Bromley. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, you can have one-to-one sessions with a professional coach or hire a buddy hitter. Alternatively, you could join one of the 100+ groups or take your own coaching qualification. So what are you waiting for?

Annabel Croft Tennis Academy, London
There’s something for all the family at the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy. You child could join the little hitters squad when they’re three years old and practise with a sponge ball. You may need to keep up with their progress, in which case look no further than the adult classes; they give a great insight into the academy’s philosophy.

Top 20 Photography bloggers of 2015

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Grab your camera! 29th June is Camera Day and to mark the occasion, we’re recommending the top 20 photography bloggers. Whether you’re a wannabe David Bailey or a casual selfie-snapper, there’s sure to be something to inspire your next photo shoot.

Finding the Universe
Have you booked your ticket to Le Marche or Greece yet? If not, Laurence and Jessica’s blog will soon have you making a reservation. There are stunning photos of the sun setting over the Adriatic and the fairy-tale landscape around Meteora; here ancient monasteries perch precipitously on the edge of dramatic ravines. You can also appreciate their excellent guides to destinations including buzzing Barcelona and the Australian outback. @Lozula

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Lost in Cheeseland
Lindsay Tramuta describes her blog as ‘musings on food, love and life in Paris’. So grab a café au lait and a buttery croissant as you flick through her lovely images of life in this enchanting city. If you’re hungry, be warned that it features lots of pictures of delicious food. These include the best pastries in Paris and the authentic Breton crêpes at Chez Imogène. Do you really need to know any more? @LostNCheeseland

Everything Everywhere
7 continents, 100 countries and 20,000 beautiful photos of them: Gary Arndt has definitely been bitten by the travel bug. It’s well worth gazing in awe at his Daily Photo feature and downloading the month’s desktop wallpaper. There are also lots of ideas for what you should pack for your next holiday and details of the latest must-buy equipment for your own photographic efforts. @EverywhereTrip

Aviators and a Camera
There are few more photogenic cities than New York – just look at Kirsten Alana’s snaps of her adopted home town in the spring. She also travels for work assignments as a photographer, and records her jaunts to stunning spots (it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it). The Cotswolds and the New Forest never looked so good, plus there are terrific ideas for where to eat when you’re next in Scottsdale. @KirstenAlana

Ken Kaminesky
Ken Kaminesky takes photos of familiar locations and makes you view them with fresh eyes. Log on for hauntingly beautiful shots of gondolas as an ethereal dawn breaks over the Venetian lagoon. Or for a glimpse of Barcelona’s fantastical cityscape from the Parco Guell. And then see night fall over the opulent Piazza Navona in Rome. They are even more beautiful than you remembered. @KenKaminesky

FOGG Odyssey
‘My goal in life as well is to drink a national beer in every country,’ writes Troy Floyd of FOGG Odyssey. ‘This might be a little hard in countries like Saudi Arabia, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ You can toast his postcards from the road and enjoy the photo essays, which are on topics from street photography to fashion shoots. Will he achieve his ambition? Watch this space. @FOGGodyssey

Stuck in Customs
This is an excellent how-to manual on taking terrific pictures wherever you are. It offers online tutorials and camera reviews. There are also lists of photography workshops – why not join one? If you fancy improving your own pictures, browse the shots of beautiful temples and tropical islands; you’ll be taking your own amazing photos in no time at all. @TreyRatcliff

Alex in Wanderland
Meet Alex Baackes aka Alex in Wanderland. Her obsessions include the Canon PowerShot S100 camera for fantastic underwater images and the Canon 15-85mm Lens; this works brilliantly for interiors and cityscapes. Just stick them in your Osprey Aether 85 backpack (another of her favourites) and you’re good to go. You could then take your pick of Alex’s recommended destinations, from volcano boarding in Nicaragua to voluntary work on Maui. @WanderlandAlex

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Hither and Thither
For the ultimate in vicarious travel, check out the super-vivid shots on Ashley Muir Bruhn’s website; it won’t take long for you to imagine that you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail or soaking up the sun in the Huntington Library’s Desert Garden. The text of these pieces is evocative too, so whether you feel like tracking down wildflowers this spring or sipping the finest espresso in Rome, then you need look no further. @AshleyMuirBruhn

Seattle’s Travels
Seattle Dredge is ‘in search of adventure and the perfect photo opportunity’, she says. Her articles share her exploits and encourage other people to follow in her footsteps. Her posts on scuba diving in Aruba and celebrating sunset on Key West make jumping on a plane seriously alluring. See you in Departures! @SeattlesTravels

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The Legendary Adventures of Anna
Anna’s madcap escapades have, indeed, made her a legend of the social media world. She definitely hasn’t let her minimal funds get in the way of maximum fun; she provides lots of handy hints on how you can travel on a budget too. You can also admire her videos on Youtube or browse her fascinating guides to Ecuador and Iceland; the gorgeous shots of Skógafoss waterfall and the dramatic Jökulsárlón (Glacier Bay) are jawdropping. @crazyintherain

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Jessie on a Journey
Rip up your guidebook and get the lowdown on off-the-beaten-track trips from Jessie. How about visiting weird sites in Orlando? Or experiencing some of Tel Aviv’s quirky activities? Alternatively, you could hike to the top of Piestewa Peak in Arizona. Or maybe chill out on the idyllic Greek island of Mykonos. Just delve into her photo journals for further ideas and insights – and then go. @JessonaJourney

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My Itchy Travel Feet
This ‘Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel’ chronicles Donna and Alan’s active explorations. She’s a writer and he’s a photographer, making them the perfect team to prove that travel is for all the young at heart. If you fancy keeping up-to-date with reports on bucket list tours and romantic getaways, you can sign up for their newsletters and broadcasts. These give you a clear idea of what to expect when you’re plotting your next break so might just make you that bit more daring. @DonnaLHull

Never Ending Voyage
Before you jet off on a permanent road trip, Never Ending Voyage should be essential reading. It explains how to sell everything you own and travel long-term with only hand luggage. If you needed further persuasion, there are breath-taking pictures of their expeditions to the Finnish wilderness and a quaint Mexican beach town. Working out if you can afford it? Their Trail Wallet app can do the maths for you. @NevEndingVoyage

Expert Vagabond
Fans of adventurous forays will love the stories and images on Matthew Karsten’s site. Laugh out loud and learn from his mistakes as he hitchhikes across the USA and camps on an erupting volcano. As he captures his journeys using videos and photos, he debunks common travel myths – it doesn’t have to be expensive, and is safer than you’d imagine too. So what are you waiting for? @ExpertVagabond

Uncornered Market
From travel insurance and city guides to travel gear and photography equipment, this is a one-stop-shop for anyone who’s planning their own great escape. It’s put together by Dan and Audrey, who have also uploaded fab galleries of pictures from their travels from sun-drenched Caribbean islands to the icy floes of the Antarctic. @umarket

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A Cruising Couple
‘We’ve seen jaguars in Brazil and chased the Northern Lights in Sweden. We’ve surfed in Mexico, practiced yoga in Bali, and cross-country skied in Lapland,’ say Dan and Casey. And their pieces, which come complete with wonderful images, are the proof that you can too. If you book a travel consultation with them, they can even guide you in the direction of your own trip-of-a-lifetime. @ACruisingCouple

Wandering On
Brian and Noelle’s mantra is ‘Dream, Plan, Go!.’ Their website may well tempt you to start packing your bag, and fill you with confidence to haggle and eat local food when you reach your destination. You’ll also love the pictures of a kingfisher in Borneo, and the video of sunrise and sunset from the top of Mount Fuji will have you lacing up your hiking boots. @wanderingon_bn

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We Travel and Blog
Gabriel and Jade are heading down the west coast of the Americas. Their epic journey began in Tofino and they’re aiming for Tierra del Fuego. Their aim is to complete the journey with minimal damage to the environment and they show how this can be achieved. There are lots of useful reviews and great pictures: their adorable puppy Phi, who has hit the road with them, is the star of lots of them. @WeTravelandBlog

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Heather on her travels
Soak up the sun as you absorb the sights and sounds of Heather Cowper’s travels. From strolling the alleys of Venice to spending the weekend in Nantes, there’s sure to be something of interest. Her photos immediately transport you to a launch on the Venetian lagoon or the back of a vast mechanised elephant on the banks of the Loire. @Heathercowper

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Cheers! Toasting the top 20 pubs in South-East England

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It wouldn’t be summer without a glass of Pimms in the pub garden. And can you imagine a Sunday minus a roast dinner? Then join us in raising a glass to the finest pubs in South-East England.

The Thatch, Thame
This charming sixteenth-century building stands at the heart of the quaint market town of Thame; it offers food and wine just as classic as its thatched roof. From Cornish White chicken starters to steamed syrup sponge puddings (of course with lashings of clotted cream), this is the quintessential pub on a plate.

The Old Thatched Inn, Adstock
Recent winner of a Foodie Guides award, The Old Thatched Inn presents local and seasonal ingredients in a modern way. Take your pick of the weekday set lunch (their deep fried brie or parma ham salad could make even a tough day at the office bearable) or treat yourself to their à la carte evening extravaganza.

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The Three Oaks, Gerrards Cross
For the ultimate flowerbed to fork experience, do check out The Three Oaks. You might just catch the smell of the thyme and marjoram growing in their lovely herb garden. It’s so close to the kitchen that the chefs can almost reach out to cut off what they need for dinner. Salt baked beef with charred cabbage from the garden anyone? Next up, chard and artichokes.

The Hand and Flowers, Marlow
This is the only pub in the UK to have 2 Michelin stars. Here, celeb chef Tom Kerridge blends rustic French food with contemporary British tastes. You can tuck into the slow-cooked duck breast that triumphed at the Great British Menu banquet. And you definitely won’t be able to resist a spoonful of the milk toffee and nutmeg tart – the roasted grapefruit sorbet is the ideal complement.

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The Plough Inn, Andover
Whether you fancy a bowl of watercress soup or a 6-course tasting menu, look no further than The Plough. Dating back to the 18th century, the Test Way footpath meanders right by the pub. Look out, too, for James’ Kitchen Table, the new cookery school run by chef patron James Durrant. Here, you can join James in the professional kitchen and learn tricks of the trade.

The Sportsman, Seasalter
With a fantastic location right by the Thames Estuary, it’s no surprise that The Sportsman dishes up super-fresh seafood. Indeed, you have a choice of Whitstable native oysters or poached rock oysters. Why not follow on with roast gurnard or braised brill? Dark chocolate and salted caramel tart draws the meal to a delicious conclusion.

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Cowpers Oak, Weston Underwood
There’s always something to celebrate at Cowpers Oak. Maybe it’s the joys of their delicious Sunday lunch, complete with golden Yorkshire pudding and crispy roast potatoes. Or perhaps their buzzing Summer Festival. So why not grab a glass of beer or bubbly and catch bands like Lucinda and the Fox or Size Nine at this year’s bash?

The Jolly Cricketers, Seer Green
The Jolly Cricketers’ Monday-night sausage and mash is the optimum way to start the week. You can even meet Elvis, the pub dog, or bring your own canine companion. And don’t worry – they’re well catered for too, with water bowls and home-made dog biscuits available. When you’ve eaten, work the food off with a stroll through the gorgeous surrounding countryside.The Jollycricketers

The First In Last Out, Hastings
It’s well worth raising a glass to The First In Last Out: they have their own brewery where they carefully craft six different ales. Choose from the gingery Old Town Tom or chocolatey Mike’s Mild (or, indeed, try both). You can even taste their Crofters best bitter in the beer-battered cod goujons. Lively music nights and fun pub quizzes complete an excellent night out.

The Sun Inn, Basingstoke
Run by Gordon Stott, who at just 23 is one of the country’s youngest chef-landlords, The Sun Inn is a shining example of pub perfection. Ham, egg and chips? Sure – breaded duck egg, pulled ham hock and potato crisps. Burger? Absolutely – a homemade patty topped with gooey welsh rarebit and tangy tomato chutney. The beautiful backdrop of the undulating Hampshire hills is the finishing touch.

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The Bluebell, Emsworth
Just a few steps from the picturesque harbour quay, and boasting terrific views from the terrace, this may just be the ultimate spot to wolf down delicious crab cakes or fish and chips. And if the tide’s going out, you can even take them away to enjoy on your boat.

The Duke of Cambridge, Farnham
Drop by The Duke of Cambridge and you’ll soon have joined their G&T Club, which tempts you with a fab selection of different gins to sample. Alternatively, you can sip a glass of Pimms or nibble at something cooked on the grill in the large garden. It’s the perfect place to soak up the summer sun.

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The Chimney House, Brighton
Is this the coolest pub in hip-and-happening Brighton? From chic cocktails to trendy tasting plates, The Chimney House has something for everyone (plus a buzzing atmosphere). The focus is on seasonal and regional produce – and no wonder when you’ve got fish from Shoreham and meat from Garlic Wood Farm on your doorstep.

The Star, Leatherhead
Just a few minutes down the road from Chessington World of Adventures, The Star serves fab food all day every day. Their ribs are famous and the beer comes with a Perfect Pint Guarantee. You can always walk off your meal with a circular from the pub round Ashtead Common and back. With any luck you can then catch one of their fun live acts.

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The Hinds Head, Bray
Owned by molecular gastronomist Heston Blumenthal, The Hinds Head leads you 500 years back in time. Here, Heston’s on a mission to bring back historic English dishes, so you have the unique opportunity to try oxtail and kidney pudding followed by peach tart with yogurt ice cream. You will definitely be tempted by Heston’s famous triple-cooked chips and the award-winning Quail Scotch Egg too.

The Taverners, Godshill
A picture-postcard pub on the idyllic Isle of Wight, here they grow fruit trees and keep chickens. Dig into the bread – it may well be hot from the oven. They even make their own liqueurs that range from crab apple schnapps to damson gin. You can also browse for goodies to take home at the onsite shop.

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The Duke of Cumberland, Henley
The Duke of Cumberland has received rave reviews from its many happy regulars as well as newspaper critics. A particular highlight is the roast option, where you choose a joint plus all the trimmings to share with your friends. It’s even better than the roast that mum used to make (though please don’t tell her).

The Thomas Lord, Petersfield
Calling all fans of Pimms and pizza! The Thomas Lord is firing up the pizza oven in their garden on Sunday nights over the summer. They traditionally serve them with Pimms, and who are we to argue? They were recently awarded 2 AA rosettes for their focus on local produce, and it doesn’t get much closer than their own abundant kitchen garden and free-range chicken run.Thomas lord 3

The Rose and Thistle, Fordingbridge
The Rose and Thistle’s pretty cottage garden is a lovely place to while away a leisurely summer’s afternoon. Owned by a consortium of villagers, it has a relaxing home-from-home vibe. Perennial favourites include slow-cooked pork belly and home-made steak and kidney pudding. They’re fab washed down with local brews like Ringwood Best or Stonehenge Ales. And the sticky toffee dessert is a legend too.

The Ginger Pig, Hove
Whether you fancy an espresso martini or a glass of locally produced rosé, The Ginger Pig should be top of your to-visit list. Their summer platter of chilled gazpacho soup and melt-in-the-mouth courgette fritters is highly recommended too. Obviously, you won’t be able to resist the homemade fudge either.

Top 10 places to go skydiving in the UK

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Is there a more exhilarating experience than a skydiving adventure? It offers the thrill of a lifetime and the opportunity to see the countryside from an entirely new perspective. But before you take the plunge, do check out our list of the best places to give it a go.

Skydive St Andrews

This is a fantastic centre for novice – and nervous – skydivers as it specialises in tandem jumps. You experience the thrill of falling at 120 miles an hour, but you’re strapped to an instructor who launches a parachute at about 5,000 metres. Your rewards for taking this first step are jaw-dropping vistas over the glittering waters of the Firth of Forth and the gorgeous cityscape of Edinburgh.

Skydive Hibaldstow

If you have a head for heights, then this is your perfect destination; it offers the highest skydive in the country. So from your first jump, you freefall for up to a minute from 15,000 ft. You even learn to open and land your own parachute, so you feel like an expert from your first outing. Alternatively, you can join one of their tandem skydiving events to raise money for charity. It’s the perfect mix of great fun and great causes.

Skydive Northwest

As one of the UK’s first skydiving centres, Skydive Northwest has provided adrenaline junkies with their fix of high-octane action for over 40 years. It might just be the world’s most visually stunning site to jump too, boasting stunning panoramas over beautiful Morecambe Bay and the majestic Lake District. So even if you think you know the Lake District, think again as here you see this lovely region in a totally different light.

Skydive Langar

With 30,000 jumps over 364 days a year, they definitely take skydiving seriously at Langar. In fact, you can progress from complete newbie to competition level here; some of their trainers even include National Champions and World Record holders. And once you’ve won your own trophy, you could then give freeflying or skysurfing a go there too. The sky is, literally, the limit.

Skydive Headcorn

You can do a tandem skydive or parachute jump even if you have no previous experience – and Skydive Headcorn can show you how. They offer a full range of options that will help you get to grips with the basics and then take it to the next level. Indeed static line training, which leads you from a first leap from 3,500ft to formal qualification, is one of their most popular programmes. So what’re you waiting for?

Skydive Academy

For a spot of solo parachuting, look no further than Skydive Academy. They even offer intensive Accelerated Freefall courses for those who really can’t wait to get going. You could also get evidence of your feats to share with your friends: a professional cameraman can capture the whole occasion from your aircraft flight to your landing. You may never live down the embarrassing facial expressions, but you’ve got the ultimate souvenir too.

Hinton Skydiving Centre

Whether your fancy an introductory tandem skydiving session or are now ready to move onto the Advanced Freefall Full course, this centre is sure to have something suitable for you. Dubbed the friendliest and most sociable skydiving club in the UK, it also provides a terrific opportunity to get to know other enthusiasts of the sport: you could, for example, take part in one of their fun competitions or brush up your skills at a fascinating seminar.

Skyline

Over 100,000 people have taken the plunge at Skyline, and who can blame them? After all, they’ve raised millions of pounds for over 3,000 charities over the years. They even broke the Skyline World Record last year when 320 participants took to the skies on the same day, fundraising for excellent causes as they jumped. They’re aiming to do even better this year – see you there!

The National Skydiving Club of Wales

Fancy an adrenaline rush at just 7,000 feet? Then it’s well worth trying a Ground Rush at the National Skydiving Club of Wales. This is an excellent way to leap, particularly if you’re on a tight budget. Alternatively, while you’re there you could try formation skydiving, when you attach yourself to friends and freefall through the sky. Either way, the views over the Gower Peninsula’s expansive beaches and jagged cliffs are gorgeous.

Skydive Strathallan

Drifting through the sky with Skydive Strathallan is a fantastic way to enjoy a balmy summer evening. And the quaint town of Auchterarder surrounded by the dramatic terrain of central Scotland is a fab finishing touch. Skydive Strathallan is the only non-profit-making club in Scotland; all its earnings are reinvested into extra facilities for its hundred-odd members. For the perfect end to the day, you can check out one of their lively BBQs or fun bonfires.

Skydiving badge

National Parks of the UK – Part 1

From the Cairngorms in Scotland to Dartmoor in Devon, the UK is home to some of the most beautiful National Parks in the world.

Whether you want to go hiking in the hills or just admire the extraordinary landscape, our quick guide on what to do and where to stay is a great place to start planning your National Park holiday.

Dartmoor, Devon

Luxury Boutique Cottage, Devon - Moorland View, Home 282091

Picture from Luxury Boutique Cottage, Devon – Moorland View, Home 282091

What to see

The dramatic views of heather-covered moors and grand granite tors are breathtakingly beautiful. The landscape is varied and with 450 miles of paths, tracks and open moorland to explore, walkers of all abilities will feel catered for here.

What to do

If the weather’s not on your side, board the steam train that runs between Buckfastleigh and Totnes where you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of the River Dart. When the sun’s shining, explore an ancient castle or atmospheric abbey before stopping at a café for that must-have Devonshire cream tea.

Where to stay

This pretty cottage in Widecombe in the Moor is in the heart of Dartmoor and perfect for couples looking for a romantic break. Large groups and families will be surrounded by wildlife when they stay at this 19th-century farmhouse in Tavistock.

See all holiday rentals in Dartmoor National Park.

 

Brecon Beacons, Wales

Acre Brecon, Home 660634

Picture from Acre Brecon, Home 660634

What to see

Lush green glades, sparkling waterfalls and magical caves make a visit to the Brecon Beacons feel like you’ve stepped into a fairy-tale. The striking Black Mountains on the horizon add to its other-worldly feel.

What to do

If you’re feeling adventurous, the Brecon Beacons boasts over 600 miles of bridle paths and tracks so it’s perfect for pony trekking and horse riding. Take some binoculars with you to get a good look at the Red Kites along the way; these magnificent birds of prey are now common in the region. For a little light refreshment, enjoy a freshly made scone at one of the pretty farmhouse cafés in the area.

Where to stay

This cosy cottage in Crickhowell with views of the Usk Valley is just a 10 minute walk from the local pub. If you want to stay in Brecon itself, how about this spacious bungalow with panoramic views of the Black Mountains and free fishing available at the farm?

Take a look at more places to stay in the Brecon Beacons.

 

Cairngorms, Scotland

Picture from Heath Cottage, Home 248069

Picture from Heath Cottage, Home 248069

What to see

The Cairngorms National Park is Britain’s highest and largest mountain range. Its vast, wild landscape leaves its visitors with a sense of awe. The mighty snow-capped mountains and mysterious lochs are truly inspiring.

What to do

Amazingly, 25% of the UK’s endangered species can be found in the Cairngorms so wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element. You can take an organised tour but you’re likely to spot red squirrels in the woodland, ospreys fishing in the lochs and, If you’re very lucky, you might even get a glimpse of a Scottish wildcat. And of course, skiing is great activity to enjoy in the winter months.

Where to stay

If you’re looking for a rural retreat but don’t want to be without your mod cons, this charming cottage in Moray is complete with luxuries such as a woodburner and wi-fi.  Families will love this cottage in Newtonmore that has a fantastic dining room and kitchen for family evening meals and beautiful views of the Scottish countryside.

Browse more holiday homes in the Cairngorms National Park.

 

The Peak District, Derbyshire

Picture from Farm View Cottage Cosy 17th Century Cottage for 2, Home 569494

Picture from Farm View Cottage Cosy 17th Century Cottage for 2, Home 569494

What to see

The Peak District is one of the UK’s most popular National Parks and it’s easy to understand why. The rolling hills and craggy landscape is romantically beautiful, and it’s packed full of pretty villages just waiting to be explored.

What to do

A great way to get around the Peak District is by hiring a bike and following one of the many cycle trails. There are some fantastic walking tours too which can be booked through the local tourist information centre. If you’re a fan of Pride and Prejudice, then be sure to visit Chatsworth House, the setting for Darcy’s Pemberley. And if you’re feeling peckish, stop off in Bakewell to sample the famous Bakewell Pudding.

Where to stay

Set in 130 acres of private grounds, this cottage in Biggin-by-Hartington has its own private tennis courts and is just a short walk from the local village pub. Ever fancied staying in a converted water mill? Now is your chance: this mill apartment near Tideswell in the heart of the Peak District has picturesque riverside views.

See more holiday rentals in the Peak District.

 

The Broads, Norfolk and Suffolk

Tide & Time, Home 372633

Tide & Time, Home 372633

 What to see

As Britain’s largest protected wetland and third largest inland waterway, the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads is a haven for wildlife and some of the UK’s rarest breeds can be spotted there. Nestled among the woodland, waterways and fens, you’ll find historic landmarks and idyllic villages.

What to do

Renowned for its biodiversity, the Broads is the perfect place for nature lovers and there are plenty of opportunities to see elusive species such as the marsh harrier and even the rare Norfolk hawker dragonfly. If you can drag yourself away from wildlife-watching, pack up a picnic and take to the water for a relaxing day out on a hired boat.

Where to stay

For peace and quiet, stay at this converted stable in Lowestoft with the sandy beach just two miles away. And for a truly unique experience, this windmill dating back to the 1700s will really put the wind in your sails.

Find your favourite holiday home in the Suffolk or Norfolk Broads

From hot tubs to high chairs – how to find your dream holiday home

Whether you’re looking for a pet friendly pad, a camper van for adventurous types or a spacious villa for all the family, there really is something for everyone on Holiday Lettings – it’s just a matter of looking for it. That’s where our search filters come in. You’ll find them at the top of the search results.

Here’s how to use the filters to find the perfect place.

  • Where do you want to go? Use the drop down menus to select the country, region or town. If you’re not sure about where you want to stay, try using the map view. For example, you might not mind about which town you’re in as long as you’re near to specific attractions, such as the beach, so the map view comes in handy here.
  • When do you want to stay? Choose your arrival and departure dates if you’ve got a specific time in mind. If you’re flexible about when you want to go, leave this section blank (same goes for the other sections).
  • What size home are you looking for? Choose the size of property you’re looking for – either by the number of bedrooms or by the number of guests it sleeps.
  • How much do you want to spend? You can select your budget by typing the amount in the boxes or using the slider. Don’t forget to consider your travel costs when planning your holiday.
  • What type of place are you looking for? Maybe you’ve got your heart set on a cosy cottage or perhaps you’re picturing yourself in a grand château? You’ll find all sorts of different property types to choose from.
  • What do you want to do on holiday? If you’re looking for a specific activity, such as fishing or horse riding, you can select it from the dropdown menu to find all of the homes with that activity nearby. Read the listings to find out more about the activities on offer.

 

  • Who does the home need to be suitable for? If you’re looking for a place that’s been wheelchair friendly or has access for restricted mobility, you can use the dropdown menu to specify. Want to stay somewhere that welcomes pets? You can select this option from here too.
  • What facilities do you need? If you’ve got toddlers in tow, maybe you need a place with a high chair? Or perhaps you have a tribe of restless teenagers who’d love a games room.

You can order the properties by price, or even browse through them in map view or photo view.

Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, keep an eye out for the green Bookable online banner – this means you can book and pay online.

If you can’t see the banner, simply send the owner an enquiry. We recommend contacting 5-10 properties in case your first choice is not available.

See our help section about how to make a booking and how to pay for your stay for more info.

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How to book your holiday home

Still booking hotels for your holidays? It’s time for a change

Top 20 lifestyle bloggers of 2015

lifestyleHave you ever wondered if there are ways that you could enhance your lifestyle? Whether you want to live more healthily or simply revamp your wardrobe, there are handy hints galore from our top 20 lifestyle bloggers.

Tigerlilly Quinn

From folksy fabrics to upcycled furniture, Fritha Strickland offers ideas to suit all fans of vintage design. She might even motivate you to knock that wall down. You can also read about Fritha’s well-deserved breaks, whether it’s a family expedition to Paris or a girls’ weekend in London. @Tigerlillyquinn

Mari’s World

This is an excellent how-to guide on managing a busy lifestyle. What should you plant in the veggie patch? And how do you entertain the kids at half term? It’s also full of terrific travel ideas like hiking the Gruffalo Trail and honeymooning on the Amalfi Coast. @Maris_world

Lizventures

“Experiencing new adventures is one of my greatest joys,” says Liz Mays. It’s well worth checking out her restaurant reviews if you’re looking for somewhere different to eat. And, once you’ve read her review, you won’t be able to resist investigating the Bodie Island Lighthouse either. @blueviolet

Jasmin Charlotte

It’d definitely be tough to beat Jasmin’s hectic schedule last year. She moved from New Zealand to London and set out to explore Europe. In 2014 she headed off on holiday an impressive 11 times, with destinations ranging from historic Cambridge to gorgeous Monaco. Watch this space for updates during 2015. @jasxcharlotte

Life in a Break Down

In Life in a Break Down, Sarah Bailey puts health problems behind her and thinks about the fun things in life. Fashionistas will appreciate her reviews of cosmetics and jewellery. There are also useful posts on handy travel hacks and how holidays can refresh relationships. @Life_BreakDown

Pouting In Heels

Katie Portman describes herself as an ordinary person trying to build an extraordinary life. Her writing focuses on how she aims for the perfect work-life balance. She urges other women to be happier and aim higher too. Highlights include inspirational quotes, spending quality time with her daughter at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park (and choosing killer heels). @KateLPortman

Belle du Brighton

Resident blogger, Lauren, offers insights into buzzing Brighton that will soon have you racing to the seaside. When you’ve explored the city, you can find out about her holidays too. She explains how to explore when you’re pregnant and gives tips on wandering through the souks of Marrakesh. @BelleduBrighton

Hungry Healthy Happy

Meet Dannii Martin, your guide to losing seven stone and keeping it off. Her blog chronicles how she got fit and shows how you can too, from dealing with emotional eating to rustling up creamy avocado pasta. Now she’s healthier, she travels more and, in fact, just got back from Jamaica – Caribbean Spiced Chicken anyone? @HHH_Dannii

Amy Antoinette

Follow Amy and family as they migrate from the UK to a build a new life in the USA. Her blog covers long-haul flights with an energetic toddler and key differences between the UK and America. This makes it a great read for anybody who has ever wanted a fresh start but hasn’t got the ticket – yet. @amyantoinette

coco+kelley

Super-chic coco+kelley adds effortless elegance to food and furnishings. Its founder, Cassandra Lavalle, also blogs about her jaunts: like a romantic getaway in Quincy, Washington and a stay in Sydney. There are lovely images of her sister’s sun-baked trip to Mexico to peruse as well. @casslavalle

Zena’s Suitcase

Have you struggled to control a tricky toddler or sulky teenager when you’re out and about? Help’s at hand with Zena’s Suitcase. Zena, mum of three, explains how your children can enjoy festivals and – almost – ensure a tantrum-free train journey. @zenas_suitcase

Kath Eats

Nutritionist, Kath Younger, serves up delicious slices of life in her blog. Featuring odes to oatmeal and activities from hiking routes to festivals in her native Charlottesville, there’s something for everyone. She also reports on her trips away – so log on for pics of California’s rolling Wine Country and the Dominican Republic’s stunning beaches. @KathEats

Cherished By Me

Welcome to the world of Nova, mother of five children, aged from 7 to 20. “We love travelling” she writes, “and spend quite a bit of time exploring London.” They also recently sampled the treats at Walt Disney World’s restaurants: the photos of the pistachio and cherry trifle will make your mouth water. @cherishedbyme

I Want You To Know

Getting to know London couldn’t be easier than with Kristabel. She knows all the best restaurants and can give you the gen on the coolest shops in Hackney. She also discusses her other outings. So whether you’re planning to tour Cornwall or Cambodia, read on. @fashionknitsta

HiFashion

Girl-about-town Sherin loves fashion; she uses going away as an unmissable opportunity to shop and model new outfits. Photos and details of what she wears then appear on her blog. So if you don’t know what to take on your next escape then you may just find some inspiration here. @HiFashionSherin

Green Mama’s Pad

If you’ve ever wondered how to live both stylishly and greenly, look no further than this site . It’s all about engaging with the great outdoors. Fancy seeing the rich foliage of New England? Or taking in the tropical rainforests of Hawaii? The only difficulty is picking which of the places she has recommended to visit first. @GreenMamasPad

Sisterly Style

Sister act, Amelia and Elisa, are on a mission to make every day a stylish experience. As the perfect personal shoppers, they can sort Palm Beach wardrobe dilemmas and oversee photo shoots in Lima. Their articles, in both English and Spanish, are brilliant excuses for a shopping spree – see you on Rodeo Drive! @SisterlyStyle

Lux Life

Catherine Lux’s blog is a lavish blend of high-end travel, fashion, events and restaurants. You can discover what its like to attend opulent balls and hang out at trendy parties. Then drop anchor in the Greek islands or jet off to Cuba. It’s the ultimate in vicarious living. @luxlifeblog

Little Miss Katy

When you’re having a bad week, Katy English’s Happy Monday pieces might just cheer you up. They list the best things that have happened to her in the last few days, from sipping white hot chocolate to winning the pub quiz. She also researches places like Turkey that she will see one day and features them on her website. @MissKatyEnglish

Hamptons to Hollywood

If you’re heading to either Long Island or LA, then get the goss from Hamptons to Hollywood. It really captures the atmosphere of these special spots. From nights out at glam Skybar to hangover-curing brunches for the next day, this blog helps you to live like a local. @KyJoLang

 

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5 places to celebrate National Ravioli Day

Time to dig into a bowl of pasta parcels stuffed full of tasty ingredients as 20 March marks National Ravioli Day. In honour of this, here are some of best places where you can tuck into this delicious speciality.

Piccolo Parma, Mineola, USA

Every day is Ravioli Day at Piccolo Parma. They offer a combination of quirky and classic flavours from apple to artichoke, and sauces including triple sec cream and vodka. Last year, they even marked National Ravioli Day with a tasting menu of six courses and over 30 different ravioli. Drop by to see what’s on the menu this time around.

While you’re in Mineola, it’s well worth getting to know the area. There’s the fascinating Cradle of Aviation Museum just up the road. It’s only a few miles from the town to Old Westbury Gardens, the perfect spot for a moment of relaxation. You could also check out the colourful Nunley’s Carousel and ride on the back of one of the vintage horses.

Pick a perfect apartment in nearby New York

Taverna Trilussa, Rome, Italy

italy

The Taverna Trilussa restaurant has won awards in Milan and Rome for its Mimosa Ravioli. The exact ingredients are top secret, but if you fancy trying to unravel the mystery, then dig into a plate of them on the pretty terrace. The sauce is beautifully creamy and the staff hints that there’s no meat or fish inside. Any ideas? To round off the perfect evening, treat yourself to a trio of house tiramisù, millefoglie and mousse.

Since the restaurant’s at the heart of the buzzing Trastevere district, why not explore this part of Rome further? There’s a terrific flea market, bohemian cafés aplenty and vibrant nightspots where you can join the locals. During the day, architecture buffs will appreciate the sensational Santa Maria in Trastevere church with its glistening gold mosaics.

Sample some of the world’s finest pasta in Rome

Latium, London, UK

rome

Fancy a meal consisting entirely of ravioli? Then look no further than Latium’s Ravioli Menu. You can kick off with a potato and nutmeg filling and move on to ricotta cheese and lemon parcels for the main course. Later there’s a mint version stuffed with pineapple and drizzled with coconut sauce for dessert.

It’s only a quick walk from the restaurant to the multiple shopping opportunities of Oxford Street, where you may find something to tempt you. Keen photographers will then enjoy a wander round the neighbouring Photographers’ Gallery to catch a cool exhibition. By that point you may well be tired after a hard day of pounding the streets – if so, take a break at the Agua Bathhouse Spa.

Book a foodie break in London

Marcelli’s Ravioli Factory and Restaurant, Eureka, USA

These are ravioli like “mamma used to make” – the deep-fried appetisers are, perhaps, even better (though please don’t tell her). Marcelli’s make their own pasta dough and sausages for that authentic home-cooked taste. Had enough ravioli? The sumptuous fettuccine alfredo or rich spaghetti and meatballs are excellent alternatives.

Work off the excesses with a stroll through Sequoia Park Garden, where you can wander through the woods and take in vast redwood trees. History fans will be keen to tour the Fort Humboldt State Historic Park, which creates a vivid snapshot of the area’s heritage. The park is a 10 minute drive from the beautiful Humboldt Bay where you can spot seals or take a trip out on the water.

Try some traditional pasta dishes in Eureka

Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy

italy2

Often rated Italy’s best restaurant, the Osteria Francescana also delivers delicious ravioli. Luxury’s the name of the game here so, if you’re lucky, you might be able to try the ravioli filled with foie gras and black truffle; the crispy leek garnish is the perfect finishing touch. It looks like a work of art and tastes even better.

Modena itself is a lovely place to wander round. In the Piazza Grande you can watch the world go by with a cappuccino and gaze up at the soaring Ghirlandina tower (the breathtaking views from the top are ample reward for the climb). There’s also the traditional Albinelli market where you can sample the local speciality, balsamic vinegar.

Watch the world go by in Modena

Still booking hotels for your holidays? It’s time for a change

spain villaOne of the best things about going on holiday is, to quote a well-worn expression, “getting away from it all”. So why book one room in a hotel, surrounded by other guests, when you can enjoy the privacy of a whole house for a fraction of the price? Here’s why hotels are out and holiday rentals are in.

More for your money. We all want value for money and you’ll certainly get that with a holiday rental. You’ll have more space, exclusive use of facilities such as the kitchen and garden, and sometimes, extra luxuries such as a hot tub or private swimming pool. It’s a world away from a hotel holiday, where eating out gets expensive and finding a spare sun-lounger near the pool is no mean feat.

Feel at home. When you book a private holiday home, you can do what you want, when you want. There’s no need to worry about getting dressed (or even getting up!) for breakfast and you can have your eggs just the way you like them. Don’t feel like going out? You’ll have plenty of room to relax in the garden or curl up with a book on the sofa.

Great for kids. Anyone who’s got children will know they don’t like being confined to one area for any great length of time. Staying in a holiday home allows teenagers some privacy and excitable toddlers the freedom to make as much noise as they like. And it’s a great opportunity for families to spend some quality time together, from barbecues on the patio to board games in the dining room.

Your pets can come too. Many holiday homes are pet-friendly so guests can bring their four-legged friends along. You won’t need to worry about expensive kennel fees and your pet will love exploring the area with you.

A unique experience. Ever stayed in a castle, lighthouse or watermill before? Well, now is your chance. We’ve got all sorts of homes on Holiday Lettings. Take a look at this tree house in Costa RicaShepherd’s Hut in Snowdonia and this Pigeon Loft in France to see what we mean.

Ready to book your dream holiday rental? Here’s how it works.