Thursday, 12 October 2017

Celebrate the Isle of Wight Literary Festival with Red Funnel’s offer

To coincide with the sale of tickets for the Isle of Wight Literary Festival 2017 (12-15 October), title sponsor Red Funnel will be offering festival ticket holders 20 percent off vehicle returns from Southampton to East Cowes starting today until the 16 October.

Red Funnel is also offering those heading to the Literary Festival great savings on the Hi-Speed Red Jet service between Southampton and West Cowes, taking foot passengers to the home of the Literary Festival in under 25 minutes. Festival ticket holders can also travel on a day return basis for just £9, or book a different return date for just £12.

Keat’s Cottage that the poet rented in the heart of Shanklin, is now a charming B&B and restaurant and is another of the stops costing as little as £97. The boutique hotel is just a 5 minute walk to the seafront and serves up local Island delicacies with fresh, local produce picked that day.

The festival will be taking place at a host of venues around Cowes and will feature over 70 speakers such as Andrew Marr, Dame Jenni Murray and Frank Gardner. What’s more holidaymakers can enjoy the new Literary Heroes Trail which takes visitors on a journey across the island to discover locations where celebrated writers went on holiday, spent their childhood days and features the places that meant so much to them.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Royal Museums Greenwich announce 2018 exhibitions

National Maritime Museum

2018 is an exciting year for Royal Museums Greenwich, with a number of new galleries and exhibitions opening throughout the year. Autumn will see the opening of the Heritage Lottery funded (HLF) Exploration Wing, four new galleries spanning Pacific and Polar exploration and Britain’s maritime past. At the National Maritime Museum enjoy the work of some of Britain’s best loved photographers, Martin Parr, Tony-Ray Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts in the special exhibition, The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present.

Exploration Wing

National Maritime Museum

Opens September 2018

The ‘Exploration Wing’ will bring four new permanent galleries to the National Maritime Museum in autumn 2018. Looking into exploration in its widest sense, each of the four new galleries will bring the themes alive for people of all ages: ‘Pacific Encounters’; ‘Polar Worlds’; ‘Tudor and Stuart Seafarers’; and ‘Sea Things’, a gallery showcasing the richness of the Museum’s collections. The HLF funded galleries, designed by Casson Mann, will allow the National Maritime Museum to exhibit 1000 more objects from its collections, and provide access to areas of the museum previously closed to visitors.

Pacific Encounters

The Pacific is the world’s largest ocean and has been home to many different people and cultures for more than 50,000 years. When the first European explorers sailed to the Pacific in the 17th-century, the encounters between Pacific peoples and Europeans were complex and far reaching in their consequences.

The new ‘Pacific Encounters’ gallery will tell tales of exploration and exploitation, as European travellers ventured into the vast ocean. The gallery will display objects from the voyages of renowned figures, such as Captain Cook, alongside a full size Pacific voyaging canoe - putting the museum’s collections into the broader context of Pacific histories, identities, and the legacies of these early encounters in the Pacific today.

Polar Worlds: past, present, future

The polar regions have been a focus for British exploration and scientific enquiry for centuries. For Britain, the Arctic, and later the Antarctic, became spaces to map and understand, to investigate and discover, to endure and to conquer. They also became theatres of national character and myth – where heroes were made, and sometimes lost. Today, as the world’s climate is changing, the polar regions are once more in the spotlight – the places where the most dramatic shifts are being experienced first, and where our attitudes to the future of our planet are formed.

This new gallery will examine the major British polar expeditions over the past 250 years, including the famous journeys made by Scott and Shackleton. Scientific and geographical investigation were key reasons for such expeditions, resulting in important discoveries about our planet that are still relevant today. The display will use the Museum’s outstanding collections to bring polar exploration to life, and will bring together the past, present and potential futures of these important places.

Tudor and Stuart Seafarers

The Tudor and Stuart Seafarers gallery will explore how England, and later Britain, emerged as a maritime nation between 1500 and 1700. In the late 15th-century, England’s priorities were predominantly domestic and European but over the subsequent two centuries, the people of the British Isles travelled further across the seas, and transformed the country into a leading maritime, economic and political force on the world stage.

Using over 100 objects from the museum’s rich collection, visitors will experience compelling stories of adventure, encounter, power, wealth and conflict, which will include the exploration and colonisation of ‘new worlds’, the growth of English trading networks, and the ferocity of early-modern naval warfare through the conflicts with the Spanish Armada and the Dutch. It will feature an array of characters including Christopher Columbus, Elizabeth I, Francis Drake and Samuel Pepys as well as some relatively unknown people such as seaman Edward Barlow and shipwright Peter Pett.

Sea Things

‘Sea Things’ is a playful gallery that will explore how our identity has been shaped by the sea. It will showcase the museum’s rich and diverse collections as a visual spectacle of over 600 objects, many on open display. Hands-on activities, a maritime quiz, talking statues and sharing personal maritime memories are just some of the ways that visitors can interact with the collection and find their own connection to the sea.

At the heart of the gallery, a digital wave will draw visitors to its shores where they can explore varied stories of adventure, achievement, love and loss through some of the museum’s most unusual, quirky and poignant objects. Visitors will also discover different perspectives for each object from the views of co-curators form our local community, stimulating their curiosity and encouraging them to look at the collection in new and different ways.

The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to present

National Maritime Museum

Opens March 2018

The nation’s love affair with the seaside will be celebrated in the National Maritime Museum’s special exhibition for 2018, which will showcase beach photography by some of Britain’s best photographers. The Great British Seaside: photography from the 1960s to the present will run from March to September 2018, and will feature over 100 works by some of Britain’s most celebrated photographers, Martin Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and Simon Roberts.

The exhibition will explore our changing relationship with the seaside over the last six decades and will hold up a critical and affectionate mirror to a much-loved and quintessentially British experience, captured by photographers who share a mutual love of the seaside. The Great British Seaside will include images from the archival collections of each of the photographers, news film as well as some never before seen images.

Monday, 9 October 2017

It's a carnival this Christmas at Las Iguanas

It’s a Carnival this Christmas at Las Iguanas, so go tropical with a South American feast this year. There’s something for everyone on our three-course festive menu, whether you like it super-spicy or as cool as a coconut.

Get the party started

The party starts here from just £19.95 per person, with £5 off on selected dates! Enjoy a festive twist on some of our favourite dishes and some exciting new additions. As well as our tempting Christmas menu, this festive season you can get your favourite Happy Hour cocktails & coolers 2FOR1 all day every day. Move over mulled wine, Magnifica Cachaça is here. And that’s not all, we’ve got some amazing drinks packages to pre-order for the perfect party!

Party planning is as easy as mince pie

You’ve got to organise everyone? Not to worry! You can now manage your party online with our easy booking & pre-order system. Just add an email address for each person so they can click & choose their own selection from the menu.

If that's too much tech, that’s not a problem. Our party organisers are still around to help with the finer details, just call or visit your chosen restaurant.

A little extra treat

If you're the party organiser you could get your hands on a tasty Las Iguanas voucher to give yourself a treat in the New Year. If there are 10+ people in your party, we’ll send you a £20 voucher, and for parties of 30+, we’ll send you a £50 voucher.

Parties Make Presents

Over the years you've helped us to deliver over £100,000 of toys to children’s charities across the UK. We’re sharing some Christmas cheer again this year. We’ll donate £5 for each party booking of 10+ ordering from the Christmas menu. Our partner The Entertainer will then match the donation. Find out more.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Five great hotels for Christmas

Whether you want to spend Christmas Day in the lap of luxury, grab a pre-Christmas break or turn your Christmas shopping into something to look forward to, these five hotels chosen by The Good Hotel Guide have got Christmas sorted.

For a seasonal spectacle: The Five Arrows, Waddeson, Buckinghamshire

The Five Arrows - Credit, Rebecca Gavin
Built in 1877 to house the architects and craftsmen working on nearby Waddeson Manor (Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s new party palace), this half-timbered, ornately patterned Grade II-listed hotel comes into its own at Christmas.

There’s an extensive Rothschild wine selection, and the recently refurbished rooms are spacious and welcoming. Book a Christmas package for dinner in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant and tickets to see Waddeson Manor’s Imaginarium, a new light and sound show projected onto the French chateau-style house (11 November 2017 - 2 January 2018).

Good Hotel Guide tip: Ask for a room away from the busy road if you’re a light sleeper.

For festive luxury: Chewton Glen, New Milton, Hampshire

Chewton Glen Treehouse
This privately owned country house spa hotel on the edge of the New Forest is an impeccable choice for Christmas. It’s unstintingly luxurious, family friendly and innovative. If money’s no object, book a tree-house suite, built on stilts in a secluded forest setting.

Each suite has floor-to-ceiling windows, a wood-burning stove, a whirlpool tub, a kitchenette, and a breakfast hamper delivered to the door. That in itself is celebratory enough, but throw in a festive afternoon tea, a sophisticated five-course Christmas dinner, and wintry walks through the beautiful grounds and along the beach, and the Christmas cheer-o-metre goes through the roof!

Good Hotel Guide tip: Even the cheapest rooms are large, lavishly furnished and very comfy.

For a traditional Christmas: Park House, Midhurst, Sussex

Park House
You won’t find a more perfectly traditional way to spend Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day than at this relaxed country house hotel and spa beneath the South Downs. Park House’s Christmas package promises a ‘home-from-home’ atmosphere – if your home happens to have waiters, a golf course and spa that is…

‘Proper’ Boxing Day activities on offer include a bracing walk on Witterings beach or in the hotel’s beautiful grounds, shopping the Boxing Day sales in Chichester, or watching the hunt depart in Petworth Park. The main event involves cocktails, Champagne, optional Midnight Mass, and a four-course lunch followed by a buffet dinner.

Good Hotel Guide tip: Save room for the excellent full English breakfast!

For Christmas shopping: The Old Vine, Winchester

The Old Vine
The espresso machines and designer fabric and wallpapers sit decidedly well in this Grade II-listed 18th-century inn with oak beams and a roaring log fire. And its location opposite the cathedral green mean it’s perfectly placed for shopping in the self-proclaimed ‘England’s Christmas capital’.

There’s a popular Christmas Market with an ice rink and performances by local choirs on the cathedral’s beautiful close (20 November – 22 December), and more seasonal events than you can shake a cinnamon stick at, such as walking tours of the city’s festive highlights and The Ginchester Christmas Market (2 December).

Good Hotel Guide tip: For extra-special Christmas vibes, book the top-floor suite with views of the cathedral.

For a pre-Christmas breather: The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote, Oxfordshire

The Feathered Nest
The Feathered Nest has all the ingredients of a winning Christmas break: great food, a crackling fire and country walks. Set in a 300-year-old malthouse in the heart of the Cotswolds AONB, this gastropub has Raymond Blanc protégé Kuba Winkowski at its helm.

Book a pre-Christmas break away from the throngs of Christmas shoppers, breathe the fresh air, and sample some fabulous food – and wine. If you like what you sip, you can probably stock up on it for Christmas and New Year at The Pantry, which is run by The Feathered Nest; they’re the UK representatives of Rainbow's End, the Malan family’s wine estate near Stellenbosch. And if you really need to go Christmas shopping, Bicester Village is close too.

Good Hotel Guide tip: The Cuckoo’s Den bedroom is spacious and comfortable with a roll-top bath and views over the rolling countryside.

Find more great hotels for Christmas.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Autumn officially arrives at Stowe

Pull on your walking boots and get outdoors for an autumn ramble as bright displays of amber, red and burnt orange appear on the trees in the gardens at Stowe.

Until 5 November, discover a variety of leaf-crunching walks and use your imagination to view the landscapes and visualise where some of the ‘Missing Monuments’ once stood in the magnificent gardens at Stowe. Find the lost Village of Lamport and ponder some of the famous literary links with past writers and poets that once visited. Choose from a variety of routes starting at New Inn visitor welcome centre when you visit or download one from our website before you leave home.

'Misty mornings followed by bright sunshine glittering through the trees as they develop rich autumn hues are one of my favourite things to see throughout the seasons.' says Patrick Green – Assistant Head Gardener

'You can’t beat that refreshing feeling of a morning walk followed by a scrummy hot chocolate and piece of cake. I’d recommend heading along The Path of Liberty to see bright colourful displays in the Grecian Valley.'

At weekends families can borrow a free explorer guide to spot autumn leaves and have a go at the some of the ‘50 Things to do before you’re 11 ¾’. Here are some of the top activities to do this autumn at Stowe:

  • No.1 Go bird watching – spot Swans, Robins, Lapwings, Mallard ducks, Greylag geese and Blue tits sweeping across the lakes
  • No.2 Catch a falling leaf – with thousands of trees, you're spoilt for choice. Just pick a day with a little breeze, wait patiently and watch the leaves tumble. Pegg's Terrace is a great place to try
  • No.3 Pick blackberries growing in the wild – Turn right at Bell Gate and follow the Ha-ha walls along the outside perimeter of the gardens to find brambles and blackberries
  • No.4 Play conkers – Head down Bell Gate Drive or to Hawkwell Mead next to the Temple of Friendship where you'll find the best haul of fallen conkers to set up a game
  • No.5 Eat an apple straight from a tree - Head into the parkland, turning right at Bell Gate to find the old Sheep’s nose apple tree behind the Temple of Friendship

The gardens and New Inn visitor welcome centre at National Trust Stowe are open 7 days a week, 10am-5pm for you to make the most of these moments of autumn sun before winter descends. Don’t forget to share your favourite pictures and #autumncolour hotspots at Stowe with us via Twitter and Facebook - just search for National Trust Stowe.

Normal admission applies. For more information about Stowe visit

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Petworth set for literary weekend

Sir Vincent Cable MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, BBC Radio Two Presenter Jeremy Vine, mountaineer Chris Bonington, Strictly Come Dancing stars (past and future!) Ann Widdecombe and the Reverend Richard Coles, along with celebrated historical author Kate Williams are just some of leading authors and writers presenting at this year’s seventh annual Petworth Literary Festival.

Since its early establishment as a Literary Weekend, seven years ago, the Festival has now expanded to a week-long programme, establishing its presence as an important feature of the annual Petworth diary for audiences and speakers from across the UK and beyond. It is an opportunity to celebrate the written word with renowned authors, keen to visit this beautiful part of the world to take part in a festival that now has a considerable pedigree and reputation. This year’s Festival runs from the 31st October – 5th November in Petworth, West Sussex.

Chris Bonington

Stewart Collins, Artistic Director said of the Festival:

'I couldn’t possibly pick out individual highlights as literally every event is potentially just that, but as an overall comment I would have to say that we really do seem to be building momentum as a literary festival of both significance and also variety. Much as with our summer festival these are two qualities that are clearly loved in our part of the world, and I have absolutely no doubt our ever growing audience will snap up the tickets for this November’s week given the range of events on offer.'

The programme includes a broad range of subjects from politics, through history and current affairs, to biography, food, music, local walks and acts of derring-do. There’s also a Schools Poetry Event with Rachel Long, presented in partnership with the West Sussex branch of The Arts Society and the opportunity for young readers to meet Kieran Larwood, writer of the Blue Peter Book Award winning novel The Legend of Podkin One Ear and hear the first chapters of the eagerly anticipated sequel.

In addition, each performance includes a book-signing, organised and managed by Petworth Bookshop, giving ticket-holders the opportunity to purchase the latest published work, signed by the authors themselves; a brilliant souvenir to take home with them.

Chiddingstone Castle set for Christmas Fair

Chiddingstone Castle’s annual Christmas Fair will take place on Saturday 25 November 2017 between 10am and 4pm. Admission £5.

Choose your ideal festive gifts from over 70 beautifully laid out stalls in the Castle’s historic rooms and marquee. Mulled wine and mince pies will add to the seasonal cheer!

The beautiful countryside location of this lovely Castle is perfect for a relaxed shopping opportunity with many stalls selling unique products that are not found in the High Street. Both the Castle and marquee will be brimming with Christmas gifts ideas including home accessories, vintage wares, jewellery, books, cards, slate and lacquer goods, bags, children’s clothes, locally-produced food and drink, soaps, candles, cards and much more.

For a restorative tea or coffee, visitors can visit the cosy Tea Rooms which will also be serving homemade soup, sausage rolls and cakes. The grounds of the Castle will be open for a peaceful stroll to the Victorian Orangery or around the lake.