Go Holiday Articles
Published 07:30 on Saturday 01st February, 2014You've arrived but there's no welcome hamper. All you've got is a packet of Pringles and two Ginster sausage rolls. You should have listened to self-catering veteran Diana Cambridge.
YOU’RE here! You’ve located your self-catering cottage or apartment – eventually – negotiated the door code, carried your bags in and exclaimed over the comfort of your home-from-home.
The first cork needs to be popped – but where’s the corkscrew or bottle opener? And how do you work the one provided, if they have been provided by the owner?
You’re hungry, but that carrier bag of food you’ve filled hastily at a service station doesn’t seem very appetising. You could go out but it’s late and raining and anyway, you don’t know where to go. Still, it’s a lovely holiday – or it will be tomorrow!
I’ve had lots of great self-catering holidays, and much prefer them to hotels, but more than a few arrivals have been exactly like the one I’ve described.
Now, I pack carefully, food and drink-wise, so that a delicious supper can be on the table within ten minutes of locating the kitchen. That’s what I call self-catering!
Here are my practical hamper tips for different budgets and occasions – and some suggestions for owners on what to leave for their guests. Please, no ancient shortbread biscuits in little packets of two, cast offs from Holiday Inns, or “individual” coffee sachets that should be in The British Museum.
Blow-out romantic hamperYOU want this to be quick to assemble, non-messy – you might want to have breakfast in bed – and festive. Include:
- One or two bottles of Champagne or prosecco, and wine, plus your own corkscrew;
- A large pack of smoked salmon;
- “Artisan” sliced bread from Morrisons or Waitrose;
- Two lemons, and a small tub of black pepper;
- Plain Kettle crisps;
- Soft-spread butter;
- A ready-to-eat lemon pie or cheesecake;
- Paper napkins, candles and matches.
Your lemon pie or cheesecake goes in the freezer. You’ll probably forget it’s there, but you could well enjoy it the next day. Light the candles. You’re now ready to open the bubbly – and eat!
Breakfast blissFOR your “romantic breakfast” (no irony intended – you’d still like this, even if you’ve been together for 30 years) the next day, you should have packed:
- Croissants in an airtight cellophane wrap;
- A small jar of peach or apricot jam;
- Some fruit – bananas are easiest;
- Your own coffee, decanted into a jam jar;
- Single cream, and a carton of milk.
In-house mealsIF YOU’RE going to continue the theme and not eat out much, add one ready-prepared poussin – try www.gressinghamduck.co.uk, sold in Waitrose – a bag of leaves and sachets of dressing. Slam the poussin into the oven (you don’t have to baste it) and serve with your mixed salad.
If you buy two poussins and cook both, you’ve got one to take as a cold packed lunch on your romantic stroll by the sea. Cram in a half of prosecco as well for your walk, plus two paper cups.
Don’t forget nibbles – mixed nuts and raisins, Japanese rice crackers and salted peanuts. Go for the best, not the cheapest, in the supermarket. Ready-prepared Thai meals in cartons from a supermarket – duck with pineapple, lemon rice, chicken and cashew nuts, mixed vegetables – are delicious time-savers. Pick the latest sell-by date, add prawn crackers and Thai fish cakes. You’ll have no cooking at all, will save money on restaurant meals and still have memorable lunches or dinners.
Budget hamperYOU want to get away, but you don’t want to damage your bank balance – if you have one!
Keep things very simple and do not under any circumstances buy “interesting” cheeses and breads from local delis. They’re far too expensive.
Instead, shop carefully at your local market before you leave – pick the good but reduced cheeses, some long-lasting sliced wholemeal bread, and fresh tomatoes and fruit. For dinners, just take pasta and some ready-prepared basil and tinned tomato sauces. I can’t see a man on his own creating a carefully-sourced Italian dinner from scratch; a woman might, but you’re there to get away from domestic jobs.
For a change, try a fish and chip take-away – they’re usually excellent at the sea side. If it’s for two of you, have two fish portions but one bag of chips. They always give you too many chips, and you’re on a budget.
For many of us, wine is an absolute necessity, budget or no budget. Check out the offers in your local supermarkets and go for the quality wines with the largest mark-down, not the cheapest. A £12 bottle marked down to £6.99 is much better value than a £3.99 bottle of very average plonk.
Do it in advanceProvisioning for a self-catering holiday can seem like a chore and put off to the last minute. See it as something enjoyable to do – even a challenge – and get the whole thing done and dusted a couple of days before you set off.
If you adore cooking and want to make exquisite layered mousses and drizzle things on desserts you’ve slaved over for hours, you won’t need my advice.
But in that case, why go self-catering? You could just stay in your own kitchen!
To read more about Hamper happiness in our Spring magazine click here
By Go Holiday
Published 06:30 on Thursday 30th January, 2014FROM abseiling to kite boarding, coasteering to blo-karting or kayaking to sky-diving, Jersey can keep you busy with more than 30 different activities. Highlights include:
Abseiling: Abseiling in Jersey is the ultimate adrenaline rush, whether you’re descending from Noirmont Tower with the azure sea sparkling below, or dropping from St Catherine with France visible on the skyline.
Blo-karting: For extreme fun on a windy day, this is the latest sensation in the world of wind-sports. Think go kart meets sailing, but on the beach. The blo-kart is simple to use; even small children will be proficient enough to sail unattended in ten minutes. Racing at eye-watering speeds on one of Jersey’s many stunning beaches will keep the kids entertained for hours.
Coasteering: Clamber across rocks, swim into caves, and discover an alternative Jersey. Led by experienced professionals, this is a real taste of adventure for both children and adults.
Kayaking: A kayak can get to parts of Jersey that other boats can’t reach, which means the island is one of the world’s top sea kayaking destinations. Find your own hideaway, see the island’s wildlife close up, kayak through the west coast surf, skirt an offshore reef, or just enjoy a paddle in a beautiful bay.
Rock climbing: Jersey has some of the best climbing areas in Europe. The variety of rock, and unspoilt scenery, make it a spectacular experience for beginners and old hands. Join a ‘have a go’ session or sign up for more tailored courses and expeditions.
To read more about Pleasure Island in our Spring magazine click here
By Go Holiday
Published 17:05 on Wednesday 29th January, 2014THE ISLAND might have been made for walkers. It’s ideal for slow strolls across the sands, energetic cliff-top hikes and rambles on woodland trails.
Jersey Tourism has been organising Spring and Autumn Walking Weeks (May and September) for the past ten years, with all walks featured in the official programme free of charge. Some routes allow access to private land and spectacular vistas that can’t be seen from cars.
The Around Island walk is done over five days and covers the entire 43-mile coastline.
Island eatingMUCH of Jersey’s food produce is world-renowned. Jersey Royal potatoes are first harvested in early April. Jersey cows are the source of quality dairy products and fine beef. Also on the menu are Jersey Jewel tomatoes, Jersey black butter and excellent seafood. For the best of what Jersey has to offer, look for the Genuine Jersey mark – the guarantee of local provenance.
Produce carrying this distinctive mark has been reared, grown and caught in Jersey, or created by local businesses.
Island wildlifeFOUNDED by writer and naturalist Gerald Durrell, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust provides a 32-acre sanctuary to more than 130 endangered species – more than 1,400 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Conservationists work closely with the animals to better understand what is required to ensure they survive in their natural habitats, and the information is shared with colleagues working on wild animal projects worldwide. The park is open year-round.
Island festivalsJersey Food Festival, May 18-26: Culinary delights from Michelin-starred dishes to Genuine Jersey produce. Packed full of foodie activities from foraging walks and chocolate tastings to cooking demonstrations and produce tours.
June in Bloom Floral Festival, June 16-23:Long sunshine hours, rich fertile soil and the temperate climate contribute to produce Jersey’s abundance of bright and fragrant flowers, from the beautiful lavender fields to the most delicate blossoming orchids. Floral activities range from guided walks to horticultural talks.
Jersey Seaside Festival, August 4:The festival makes the most of Jersey’s beautiful coastlines with a day of traditional games at Havre des Pas. Live entertainment, music, local art and crafts and al fresco dining.
Beach Polo, September 20: Four teams will compete on the sandy sweep of St Brelade’s Bay.
Tennerfest, October 1-November 12:The ultimate festival for foodies on a budget, Tennerfest celebrates the gastronomic delights available across The Channel Islands. More than 170 restaurants on Jersey and Guernsey will be offering meals for £10. For those with bigger appetites, £12.50, £15 and £17.50 options will be available.
La Fête dé Noué, November 30-December 15:Jersey lights up with a full programme of activities. Late-night shopping, street entertainment, carol concerts, Christmas parades and guided walks covering the island’s history and natural environment.
To read more about Jersey Gems in our Spring magazine click here
By Go Holiday
Where life's a beach
Published 14:45 on Tuesday 28th January, 2014CORNWALL is rightly famed for its magnificent sandy beaches, and one of the best in the county – and England – is at Carbis Bay on the North Cornish coast, a mile or so from St. Ives.
It offers 25 acres of golden sand, every square inch of which is owned by The Carbis Bay Hotel & Apartments. The beach and its waters – warmed by the Gulf Stream – have been awarded the Blue Flag for cleanliness.
Carbis Bay is an ideal centre for touring the county’s west coast and its wild moorland, and the valleys and inlets on the south coast.
St Ives, linked via the South West Coastal Footpath and a rail branch line from Carbis Bay, was named Best UK Coastal Resort by the British Travel Association in 2011.
Attractions there include the West Country branch of London’s Tate Gallery and the Barbara Hepworth Museum. Land’s End and The Lizard are a short drive away, as are the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project. Other superb beaches include Whitesands at Sennen Cove and the three miles of golden sands at Gwithian, Hayle.
Cornwall’s mining heritage can be seen at several nearby sites including Geevor, just along the coast from St Ives.
To read more about Where life's a beach in our Spring magazine click here
By Go Holiday
My Costa Blanca
Published 18:37 on Thursday 23rd January, 2014
From the bars of Benidorm to medieval castles and nature reserves, this corner of sunny Spain has something for everyone, says Kathryn Liston
Calpe – for fiestas and fishingAS SOON as the mighty Peñón de Ifach looms into view, you know you have reached Calpe. Towering over a harbour edged with bustling restaurants serving the day’s catch – or the Llauna de Calp (fish stew) – it’s the resort’s most distinctive symbol.
Make the challenging climb to the 1,089ft summit – a protected nature reserve – and you will be rewarded with fabulous views of the seven-mile coastline dotted with tiny coves and beaches.
Despite development over the years, Calpe offers wonderful beaches, watersports, shops and restaurants, while fiestas and a daily fish market add a distinctly Spanish twist.
On June 24, the Bonfires of San Juan light up the sky, while in October, Moors and Christians are celebrated with a three-hour procession and re-enacted battle. My favourite part of Calpe is the white-washed Moorish old town with its quiet, narrow streets and tucked-away restaurants, 15th century walls and church dedicated to the Virgin of the Snow, the only Gothic-Mudejar temple in the Valencia region.
All around, villas and sleepy vineyards gaze down from their perch on the mountainside.
Guadalest – for mountain viewsNO MATTER how many times I visit the hilltop town of El Castell de Guadalest, popularly known as Guadalest, it always manages to inspire.
A climb along a twisting narrow road from Altea La Vella and its arty big sister, Altea – both offering bags of self-catering accommodation - brings you to this village of only 200 inhabitants.
The journey is rewarded with stunning views across the Aita¬na, Serella and Xorta mountain range and the Guadalest River.
Small in size but big in history, the town was built by the Moors to defend their strategic position. Abandoned castles date back to 715AD. A tunnel cut in the mountain takes you to the 11th century San Jose castle, built by Muslims.
The Moors lived outside the San Jose gate in an area called ‘el Arrabal’, whose small streets and squares are now littered with souvenir and craft shops, restaurants and an eclectic mix of museums focused on dolls, miniatures, vehicles and – not for the squeamish – torture.
Elche – for great UNESCO heritageMANY Spanish towns would be hard-pressed to claim one UNESCO World Heritage site, let alone three.
Yet Elche, ten miles south of Alicante, has three UNESCO listings: the 200,000 tree-lined Palm Grove, planted by the Moors in the 10th century and declared an UNESCO site in 2000; the medieval Mystery Play, or ‘El Misteri d’Elx’, held every year in August, and the Pusol Museum, the Centre of Traditional Culture, which has been included in the Register of Exemplary Practice for pro-tecting the city’s heritage.
Hans Christian Andersen called Elche, the ‘most beautiful in Europe, the most luxuriant in all Spain’ and so it is.
The 1.5-mile Palm Grove route passes the most beautiful groves, while the Palm Grove museum charts the site’s origins, history and traditions. There are lots of other trails, too, taking in the extensive salt marshes of El Hondo, the wetlands of Clot de Galvany and the Salina Nature Reserve.
The Historic Monument self-guided walk takes in the city’s cultural highlights, passing by the Palace of Altamira, Basilica of Santa Maria,
which hosts the Mystery Play, the walled ramparts with its La Calahorra Tower and La Glorieta, where it will be time to stop for a refreshing sangria or café con leche (white coffee).After a day’s sightseeing, retire to the dunes and sandy beaches of the Elche coastline, a short drive from the city centre and one of the few coastal stretches in Alicante Province that is free of urban development.
Above, the spectacular scenery around the hilltop town of Gaudalest. Below, traditional holiday fun in Benidorm.
Benidorm – for holiday fun 24/7BIG, brash and bustling, Benidorm might be the Costa Blanca’s undisputed holiday capital but its white-washed Old Town offers a surprisingly softer side.
From ice-cold cerveza and piping-hot churros to championship golf and high-rolling gambling, Benidorm delivers non-stop holiday fun.
Three scrupulously-clean Blue Flag beaches are a magnet for sun worshippers while active types are well catered for with watersports, beach volleyball and soccer nets, Segways, mini-golf, street markets and cable ski-ing. With five theme parks, there’s one for virtually every day of the week. You can enjoy wet ’n wild rides at Aqualandia, Europe’s largest water-park. Alternatively, get close to 200 animals at Terra Natura and its Aqua Natura water-park; watch dolphin, parrot and sea lion shows at Mundo Mar.
Meanwhile, the very brave will enjoy white-knuckle rides, including the longest wooden rollercoaster in Europe, at Terra Mitica.
Night owls flock to the restaurants, 800 bars, 160 disco-pubs, night clubs, English and Irish pubs and flamboyant Las Vegas-style shows at the Benidorm Palace. Benidorm has 50 fiestas throughout the year – olé!
Click here to visit the Go Holiday website
By Go Holiday
Boris-noris and all that ....
Published 10:12 on Wednesday 22nd January, 2014
By Go Holiday