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.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Blenheim Palace Charity Ball Raises £12,000 for Maggie's Oxford

A Midsummer Night’s Dream-themed ball at Blenheim Palace has raised more than £12,000 for their staff-nominated charity – Maggie’s Oxford Centre.

The ball, which was held in the Palace’s Orangery on September 7th, featured live music and an auction; with lots including a signed Radiohead album, a private tour of Westminster Abbey and tickets for Nocturne Live at Blenheim Palace.

Throughout 2017 staff from the UNESCO World Heritage Site have been taking on challenges and organising events to fundraise for the Maggie’s, which is their official charity of the year.

“Maggie’s is a charity which is extremely important to our staff and they really went the extra mile to ensure this was a hugely successful and enjoyable event,” said Sarah Morris, Head of Human Resources at Blenheim Palace.

Maggie's Oxford offers free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends at its purpose-built centre in the grounds of the Churchill Hospital in Headington.

Pip Dingle, Centre Fundraising Manager at Maggie’s Oxford said:

'We would like to thank everyone at Blenheim Palace who helped organise this great event.

'The amount raised could cover the cost of our relaxation sessions for a whole year – these sessions are designed to help people find some peace and calmness as well as manage stress and improve well-being.

'The sessions run every Monday from 2pm to 3pm and can make a world of difference for someone going through a cancer diagnosis,' she added.

Founded on the ideas about cancer care originally laid out by Maggie Keswick Jencks, the centre provides a warm and welcoming place where anyone affected by cancer can access friendly and professional support on a drop-in basis, completely free of charge.

On average the Maggie’s Oxford Centre is used by 50 people every day, with 99% of people reporting they find the support helpful.

The centre is funded entirely by voluntary donations and does not receive any government or NHS funding.

The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996 and since then Maggie’s has continued to grow, with 19 Centres at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK, online and abroad.

Las Iguanas Reveals New Menu

The new Autumn menu bursting with boldly spiced flavours launches today (26th September 2017), introducing 15 delicious additions, offering vibrant new colours and tastes of Latin America alongside old favourites.

What's on the Menu?

The menu at Las Iguanas is carefully developed and served up by a team of skilled chefs who love cooking from scratch; discovering unique flavours and inspiring recipes from across Latin America and bringing them to life through high quality, fresh ingredients. The new menu additions are no exception. Luscious new Ipanema Mussels – cooked in a lightly spiced lime, coriander and coconut sauce and served with ciabatta will tantalise those taste buds whilst the Seco de Cordero - Peruvian style slow cooked lamb shank in a golden ale, red wine and Amarillo chilli sauce, served with roasted sweet potato mash and crispy chilli and onions is a meat lover’s dream. If meat isn’t your thing, Las Iguanas are Vegetarian Society approved and a new attraction is the Cauliflower and Corn Quinotto, a perfectly cooked Peruvian-style quinoa risotto with smoked cheese, roasted cauliflower and charred baby corn, topped with puffed quinoa and crispy chilli.

If there’s room for dessert, you can continue your journey through the Latin continent with a Banana Empanada, where traditional pastry is hand- filled with banana, sweet plantain and delectable dulce de leche. Served with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of rum-flavoured syrup, this is relaxed dining at its best. If truly tropical is your thing, the Piña Colada Mess will energise your taste buds; Piña Colada ice cream is served with caramelised pineapple salsa, crispy pineapple pieces and toasted coconut chips… definitely a dessert that will have you daydreaming of Copacabana.

So on to the cocktails… Las Iguanas have turned Happy Hour in to ‘Happy Days’ for Autumn, with all cocktails now available 2 for 1 ALL day, EVERY day*. It’s a game changer. Las Iguanas commit to using premium spirits, including their own award-winning artisan Magnifica cachaça distilled by the de Faria family near Rio, and there is something for everyone, with 14 newbies on the list. Try Mezcal Watermelon Smash, a winning combination of Olmeca Tequila, Bru-Xo Mezcal, watermelon, mint, cucumber and lime or the Latin American take on the classic; a ‘Golden’ Porn Star Martini, compromising Gosling’s Gold Rum, apricot, Funkin passion fruit, vanilla and pineapple with a shot of cava. Celebrate spending time with people you like with a host of new sharing drinks. Alpaca Punch will bowl you over; El Dorado 3 year old Rum, falernum, passion fruit, lime and cranberry, topped up at the table with a showy bottle of Freixenet cava for 4-6 to share. Or dive in with the new Tropical Fishbowl; Beefeater gin, Sauvignon Blanc, passionfruit, elderflower, Ting and a few finned friends swimming around for 3-4. Barrel o’ Caips is a giant version of the signature Caipirinha cocktail made with Las Iguanas Magnifica cachaça and fresh limes, perfect for 3-4 to enjoy this Brazilian classic.

* Cocktails available 2 for 1 all day every day apart from Royal Festival Hall and Stratford where times vary and in Scotland where they are priced differently in line with local licensing law.

Top 8 Autumn Activities at Blenheim Palace this Autumn

Enjoy a day out at Blenheim Palace this autumn. The events calendar is packed with fun activities and new exhibitions with something on the schedule for everyone to enjoy.

1 Free Evening Projections at the Palace
Experience an immersive illuminated art experience this autumn as renowned US contemporary artist Jenny Holzer lights up the Palace with a series of large scale projections. Visitors can also download a bespoke mobile app which has been developed especially for the exhibition. The app will allow visitors of all ages to superimpose digital artworks onto their surroundings creating a virtual space for the exhibition.

This rare chance to see Blenheim Palace illuminated at night is free not to be missed.

Selected evenings from 28 Sept – 10 Oct, free entry

2 Art Exhibition ‘Softer’ Jenny Holzer at Blenheim Palace
Discover a new exhibition Softer: Jenny Holzer as she transforms the Palace using light projections and augmented reality. Her works have been inspired by Blenheim Palace’s military and political history which will inspire and challenge visitors during the temporary showcase. There will also be more meditative areas to explore which will feature examples of Holzer’s best-known work.

28 Sept – 31 Dec, Adult £24.90, Child £13.90 Palace, Park & Gardens Ticket

3 Art on Conflict
Step outside the Palace Gates during your visit and discover this fantastic exhibition in Woodstock. Echoing the theme of Jenny Holzer’s work, the exhibition will be showing pieces from 12 international and local artists, all of whom have produced works based around this theme. Artists include Mark Neville, Graham Dean, David Freud and Pete Sherrard. The exhibition will be held in the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum on Woodstock High Street so that visitors to the free evening light projections at Blenheim Palace will be able to see the show.

Until 7pm, 28 Sept – 29 October

4 Festival of Literature, Film & Music

 Don’t miss the best boutique festival in the country as the Festival of Literature, Film & Music returns this autumn. Book to see an array of talks, debates, dinners and entertainment as part of this unrivalled offering. The four day festival will see acclaimed speakers gather from a range of creative fields including literature, fashion, food, film and music, and promises visitors an enriching, diverse and unique experience. 12 – 15 October, Tickets require for individual talks

5 Halloween Entertainment
Dare to discover a bigger and better Halloween experience this October Half Term! Hop on board the ghost train to go through a creepy tunnel to the Pleasure Gardens where a bone-anza of activities are to be found. Families can lurk around the Labyrinth or take the Mini-beasts Trail, and there will be a whole host of treats on offer in the Pleasure Gardens Deli including ice-scream and toffee apples, with pumpkin carving too! Head to the cinema in the Stables Courtyard for classic Halloween storytelling, and there will be Spooky Tours running throughout the week with eery candlelit tours on selected dates...

21- 29 October, Adult £15.90 Child £7.10 Park & Gardens Ticket

6 State Rooms Tour

Stay indoors this autumn for a tour of the impressive State Rooms at Blenheim Palace. A tour guide will talk passionately about stunning portraits, tapestries and furniture which is set against the scale and ambition of the interior architecture. Enjoy over 300 year of history and heritage.

Daily – guided tours at regular intervals, Adult £24.90 Child £13.90 Palace, Park & Gardens ticket

7 Autumn Walks

Head outdoors this autumn and see the Park burst to life with colour whilst exploring the 2000-acre ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped Parkland. Enjoy the ‘finest view in England’ in all its autumnal glory and discover a landscape that is full of historical significance, and contributed to Blenheim Palace and Estate becoming a World Heritage Site in 1987.

Adult £15.90 Child £7.10 Park & Gardens ticket

8 British Heart Foundation Half Marathon
There is something for everyone this year at the BHF running festival. Get fit and help save lives by raising vital funds to beat heart disease! Choose from the Blenheim Palace Half Marathon, 10k Run or a shorter family-friendly 2k Run. Each distance has a beautiful route planned through the ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland.

1 October, Adult £15.30 Child £7.10 (Park & Gardens ticket)

Monday, 25 September 2017

Celebrate 25 years of the Austin Counties Annual Car Rally

There will be a display of around 30 Classic Cars at Tenterden’s Steam Railway on Saturday 14 October and 60 vehicles on Sunday 15 October 2017.

The club, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary at the Kent and East Sussex Railway this year, will put on an interesting display of its members vehicles and guests - some of which date back to 1915! Models on show may include Austin 7’s and an impressive Rolls Royce Silver Ghost.

The vehicles will be positioned all around Tenterden Station including outside the Colonel Stephens Railway Museum.

The event is open to visitors to the railway and members of the Austin Countries Car Club.

Trains will be running all weekend and tickets booked online in advance will benefit from a 10% discount.

The Station Refreshment Rooms at Tenterden Station will be open for breakfast from 10.00am with a range of hot and cold meals served throughout the day.

The award winning Colonel Stephens Railway Museum will be open throughout the weekend, with free entry to ticket holders and tells the story of Colonel Stephens the founder of the Kent & East Sussex Railway and the promoter of light railways across the country, through a collection of railwayana.

Admission including an all-day Travel Card: Adult £18, Child (3 - 15 years inc.) £12 and Family (2 adults + up to 3 children or 1 adult and up to 4 children) £38.

Please see the timetable on the website for times of steam train operation. A 10% saving applies when pre-booking tickets on the website Tenterden and Northiam are situated on the A28 between Ashford and Hastings. Free parking at Tenterden Station.

For more details telephone 01580 765155 or email

The Grand Brighton mark UK Event Wellbeing Week with Wellbeing Kits for organisers

In celebration of UK #EventWell17 week that took place last week, The Grand Brighton and Richmond Hill Hotel launched their own campaign to promote wellbeing within the events industry. The ‘little box of calm’ contains a selection of wellbeing goodies. From relaxing bath essence from Noble Isle and soothing foot balm from Temple Spa, to the hotels’ very own ‘Conference Cool Down’ playlist on Spotify, all items aim to promote calm and offer organisers some light relief from everyday work pressures. Following recent statistics on the stresses of the role of an Event Organiser, both properties understand that they can play an essential part in helping to eliminate some of the pressures associated with organising events. From the enquiry stage to the co-ordination of the event, their experienced teams can offer a guiding hand. From working closely with the client on seamless event set up and flow to imparting their knowledge on event enhancements and delegate activities, taking advantage of the venues’ unique locations. Despite Eventwell17 being only a week long campaign, the hotel's own campaign will extend into late September and October.

Alison Edwards, Director of Sales comments 'our people and our locations are what make both venues so special, from a Sussex vineyard or beach team build in Brighton to an afternoon in the Royal Park or on the Thames in Richmond, both destinations offer an array of very unique off-site delegate activities. The invigorating sea air and green open spaces breathe new life into events bringing a fresh approach towards improving physical and mental wellbeing.

'The uniqueness of Richmond and Brighton, fantastic transport links and experience of the team onsite help create a pressure free event for organisers and productive environment for delegates. We hope we can inspire organisers to try something new for their next event.'

Both properties place event food high on the agenda with menus available to stimulate, motivate and excite, keeping the audience focused throughout, incorporating locally sourced seafood, known to benefit from essential Omega-3, the perfect brain food, fresh vegetables, grains, pulses and other energy boosting cuisine, can all be incorporated to promote wellbeing.

Andrew Mosley, General Manager at The Grand Brighton said: 'Following news coverage about work life pressure, it is great to see the events industry come together to introduce a positive approach to wellbeing, something we are proud to champion. We want to encourage professionals in the industry to take time for themselves and we hope they enjoy the pampering elements of the wellbeing kits'.

'Both The Grand Brighton and Richmond Hill Hotel are proud to provide plenty of options for delegates to not only be able to work collaboratively, but also to fully refresh and embrace being in a unique and productive environment away from the daily rush.'

Monday, 18 September 2017

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard set hold Dementia Awareness Day

Those living with dementia are invited to attend a special Dementia Awareness Day at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on 22nd September.

The day-long programme, which costs £3 per person, includes a guided tour of First World War ship HMS M.33, museum gallery activities, a drop-in tour of HMS Victory plus a well-being workshop.

Learning and engagement officer Rachel Goodall, is the National Museum’s Dementia Friends champion. This year she has been training colleagues on how to help those living with dementia get the best from their visits and is she attends a nationwide Dementia Friendly Heritage Resource group.

Rachel said: 'It is well known that more and more people are living with dementia. We are working hard creating a dementia-friendly visitor experience for all those living with dementia and their carers.

'We want our community, including our veterans, to know we are here as a place to visit, with staff who understand. In a world that is forever changing and sometimes confusing, we offer a safe environment to remember our culture and national identity.'

To reserve a space please telephone Rachel Goodall on 023 9254 5031

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Stamner House announces monthly Car Meet

Proud Country House Stanmer is delighted to announce a new monthly Car Meet event, ‘Classics at Stanmer’. Every Sunday of each month the house will be inviting classic car owners and enthusiasts alike to get together in the sprawling grounds of our country pile and spend a perfect Sunday admiring the remarkable motors on display.

This will be a free family-friendly event, open to all. Whether you own a 60’s E-type, a pristine Triumph motorcycle, or a modern classic, Stamner House will be embracing the full diversity of wonderfully-crafted machines in their grounds. Of course, non-car owners are also welcome to come along and join in the fun and talk all things motors with like-minded people. There will also be car rides on offer in exchange for a small charity donation where you can hop into one of the classic cars on display and be taken for a spin around the estate. This will be a very relaxed and social event so you are more than welcome to turn up on your own and dive straight into our friendly car community.

As with any social gathering, eating and drinking will play a central part, so there will be fantastic freshly-made food served straight from their kitchen, alongside teas and coffees to keep you fully fuelled for the day. The house will also be offering 20 % off the price of dining in their restaurant for all classic car owners. At every meeting, the owners of our favourite 3 cars will be offered dinner for free as a thank you for gracing their grounds with their fabulous motors and letting them in on the action.

The first car meet of the season will take place on Sunday 8th October, and the second on 5th November from 11.30 to 2.30pm. Free Entry

Friday, 8 September 2017

Kick-start the festive season at the Victorian Festival of Christmas

The largest Christmas festival on the south coast is set to return this December when Portsmouth Historic Dockyard welcomes back the ever-popular Victorian Festival of Christmas. Open 10am to 6pm between 1 – 3rd December, the festival is the perfect way to kick off seasonal celebrations.

The Victorian Festival of Christmas transports visitors to a bygone era where a cast of colourful characters roam the snow-covered cobbled streets, rub shoulders with a medley of street entertainers, enjoy seasonal refreshments and over 150 stalls for perfect gift ideas.

Taking centre stage this year, will be a new, soon-to-be unveiled regiment of 12 life-size naval-inspired figures. Currently still in Santa’s workshop, these specially created artistic installations by selected artists will bring an entirely new look to the famous 12 Days of Christmas' ditty.

Visitors can encounter the ever-popular traditional Father Christmas dressed in green, see Scrooge in his hand-drawn carriage, bump into young chimney sweeps, and enjoy street performances from Victorian magicians and musicians. To top off proceedings, there will be a 35-foot Christmas tree alongside HMS Victory.

Historic parts of the dockyard will be transformed into a Victorian-style street, complete with coffin measurers, ladies of the night, street urchins, market sellers and many more. This year there is a brand new family trail with Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s favourite jewel at the centre of an intriguing Sherlock Holmes-inspired whodunnit.

The lively real-ale Fagin’s Tavern returns with plenty of merriment this year as performances by The Edelweiss Bavarian Oompah Band, Old Sea Dogs, and Shep Woolley & the Ansome Sea Buoys, light up the stage.

Those planning ahead can take advantage of special online Earlybird rates that offer cracking discounts on all ticket prices: adult tickets (16-59) £14.50; child tickets (5-15, under 5s free) £12.50; senior and student tickets £14.00; family tickets (2 adults and up to 3 children) £46.00; disabled and carer tickets £12.50.

What’s more, event tickets include entry to all the attractions within the Historic Dockyard, including the new-look Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860, HMS M.33, The National Museum of the Royal Navy, Boathouse 4 and Action Stations.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Cliveden earns prestigious award

Cliveden, the iconic 17th century stately home, and now one of the world’s finest luxury hotels, has been named at the UK’s top Holiday Hotel in the Condé Nast Traveller ‘Readers’ Travel Awards 2017’, the announcement was made on Monday 4th September at the prestigious awards ceremony held at the Ham Yard Hotel in London.

With a winning score of 83.86, Cliveden overtook rivals, including Soho Farmhouse, Coworth Park, Gleneagles, Babington House, Limewood and The Pig, and nudged ahead of its sister property, Chewton Glen, who was runner-up in the UK Hotel Spas category and who came in third-place with a fabulous score of 83.67 in the listed for the best UK Holiday Hotel.

Hosted by Editor, Melinda Stevens and Publishing Director Simon Leadsford the Condé Nast Traveller’s Readers’ Travel Awards 2017, celebrate the most incredible travel experiences, as voted for by people who go to the ends of the earth to find them. Readers were asked to vote for things they loved most about travel: their favourite cities, islands, ski resorts, top hotels and spas, cruise lines and tour operators and their ratings were then analysed to provide the very best travel experiences in the world.

Commenting on the award, Andrew Stembridge, Executive Director of Iconic Luxury Hotels, which includes in its current portfolio, Cliveden House in Berkshire, Chewton Glen in the New Forest, The Lygon Arms in the heart of The Cotswolds and London’s 11 Cadogan Gardens, said:

'This is a fabulous achievement, I am not only immensely proud of the team at Cliveden, but acknowledge that this award is testament to the vision and generosity of our owners, whose tremendous energy and enthusiasm has enabled this restoration project to have been undertaken bringing this remarkable property back to its former splendour.

'Historically, Cliveden was probably the most renowned hotel outside London and to have achieved this wonderful award from Condé Nast Traveller, reinforces the message that Cliveden is well and truly back on the map. Other recent accolades include being placed on The Platinum List 2017, as one of the Best Country House Hotels; being voted the most ‘Romantic Hotel’ in the 2017 Good Hotel Guide; the eponymous André Garrett Restaurant being included in the Top 20 restaurants in the latest Waitrose Good Food Guide 2018; and Cliveden being voted the Best Newcomer in the Condé Nast Johansens 2016 Awards for Excellence.

'The opening last month of The Cliveden Spa, marks the completion of the remarkable multi-million pound restoration of Cliveden House, which has seen the total transformation of this iconic luxury country house hotel over the past five years. Honouring the illustrious 350-year history of this remarkable house, The Cliveden Spa has been revamped and has re-opened alongside a brand new state-of-the-art building which links the house to the spa within the walled garden'.

Hungerford set for food festival

Aston's Bakery 

Hungerford Food Festival is set to take place on 8th October at Hungerford Town Hall & High Street with entry being only £1 and under 16s free!

What's on at Hungerford Food Festival

A full day of local foodie fun with over 40 stalls, sizzling street food, live cooking demonstrations, Cook-Off competition, pumpkin challenge, apple quiz and lots more – kindly sponsored by Doves Farm, Blandy's at Inglewood and the newly re-opened Three Swans Hotel in Hungerford.

Come hungry as there will be plenty of stone baked pizza, Thai curry, burgers, sausages, paella, veggie specials and lots more. Local producers will range from charcuterie to chillis, beef to bread - with local lamb, rapeseed oil, beer, mead, confectionary, liqueurs, cheese, cakes, honey in between.

Live demos will include The Perfect Risotto by Blandy's at Inglewood Head Chef Gert Pienaar, How to Pickle by Masterchef Semi-finalist Ollie Hunter from The Wheatsheaf and Hungerford’s very own Nicholas Lumley aka The Old Trout Smoker!

One of the UK’s top organic and sustainable food experts, Lawrence Woodward, will talk about where our food comes from and the choices we all face in the supermarket. Newbury & District Beekeepers will demonstrate where honey comes from and The Naked Grape will be running a bar with local beers, ciders & other tipples.

Hungerford Allotments will inspire people to grow their own and My Apple Juice will be happy to turn your surplus apples into fresh, delicious juice. Teas and cakes will be provided by Hungerford Scouts and there will be hands-on foodie activities for children.

There is a chance for everyone to get their pinnies on and get involved: to enter this year's Hungerford Cook-Off. If you have a prize pumpkin bring it along to enter the Pumpkin Challenge. Or test your apple knowledge on My Apple Juice's Apple Quiz. For more details email

This year for the first time there will also be a special Hungerford Food Festival Cream Tea trip on The Rose of Hungerford starting at 2.30pm from Hungerford Wharf. Pre-booking essential at Fare Wise Travel on Hungerford High Street or on 01380 721279.

And there will be a special Food Festival service at St. Lawrence’s Church at 6.30pm on the day. Everyone is invited to a relaxed celebration with harvest hymns and a collection for the Food Bank.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Take a Spine Tingling ride at the Kent & East Sussex Railway this Halloween

Kent & East Sussex Railway are holding some frightful Halloween events this year starting from 24th October. See below what's on at the railway over the spooky period.

Halloween High Jinx event Tuesday 24 October to Thursday 26 October 2017 

Have a fun day out at Tenterden’s Steam Railway this Halloween with a relaxing return train journey between Tenterden and Bodiam stations hauled by a heritage steam or diesel engine and enjoy all the free family-friendly events including ‘Mr Mystery’ magic show and pumpkin carving. Why not arrive in fancy dress and visit our face painters to complete your scary look! At Bodiam station passengers can alight to see the exhilarating birds of prey flying demonstrations where birds dive and swoop over the station with Bodiam Castle in the background. There will be two flying demonstrations each day lasting approx. 30 minutes. Train travel and events are all included with the purchase of a Travelcard. When purchased in advance online TravelCards are: Family £36.20, Adult £16.20, Child (3-15) £10.80. When purchased on the day TravelCards are: Family £38, Adult £18, Child (3-15) £12. The green timetable will be in operation during October half term with both steam trains and the heritage diesel observation train.

On Friday 27 October ride the Fright Night Express if you dare! Fireworks at Northiam 

Visit the railway from 4:30pm for a Fright Night workshop including pumpkin modelling and facepainting. Families are encouraged to come in fancy dress, the scarier the better! Spooky music and an amazing live Firebreather will add to the atmosphere before everyone boards the Fright Night Express in time for a 6:30pm departure. Children will receive a Munchbox during the journey. Hotdogs or hot snacks will be available to purchase from the licensed restaurant to eat in or take on the train. Upon arrival at Northiam station enjoy a firework display before the return journey to Tenterden which will see the train arrive back at the station for approximately 8:15pm. Fright Night fares: Adults and Children 3-15 inclusive £18.00. Booking for Fright Nights essential.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Get into the Spirit at Drusillas Park this Halloween

Put your nerves to the test and get ready to come face to face with g-g-g-ghosts and ghouls at Drusillas Park! Prepare yourself for a whole host of spine tingling surprises and eerie entertainment. The award-winning zoo in East Sussex has plenty of fun events planned to keep your little horrors half term happy between Saturday 21st and Sunday 29th October.

Venture through the creepy cobwebbed corridors of Haunted Heights into the terror-tory of sin sisters, Hocus & Pocus, as they play hide and shriek with the unsuspecting public! Step carefully as you pass this derelict castle, which towers high above the skyline of Drusillas, because deep inside lies a ghostly secret... Thrill seekers are invited to knock on the trap door and discover the spook-tacular surprise within. Will you dare to get into the spirit of things?

Or perhaps you would rather take your chances in Eden’s Eye? Missing from the tomb of Eden’s Eye, an ancient Mummy has been seen wandering through the shadowy pathways of the twisted terror maze. Enter through the old temple ruins and unravel the mystery within…but take heed you don’t come to a dead end!

However the fun doesn’t stop here, there are lots of other exciting events lurking around the corner! On Wednesday 25th October crime solving Scooby-Doo will be visiting Drusillas. The cowardly hero will be meeting all you meddling kids in the Events Arena at intervals throughout the day. Plus there are Creepy Crawly encounters in the Discovery Centre throughout the week.

With all this, plus the usual animal magic, it’s well worth jumping on your broomstick and heading to Drusillas Park.

Located just off the A27 in Alfriston, Drusillas Park is open daily from 10am.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Best value days out in Hampshire | Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Where can you go which offers more than 500 years of history in 11 attractions for just one ticket – and is a great place to visit come rain or shine? Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, of course…

During the 14 years that I lived in the great city of Portsmouth, I visited the Historic Dockyard on numerous occasions; whether with family, friends as a tourist, to attend business functions or events or on a personal note, to run past the ships (as fast as I could!), in the annual Great South Run. It is an amazing location that continues to evolve to meet the changing interests of the visitor as well as conserving the country’s naval heritage.

The Mary Rose

Visitors can now enjoy a full, uninterrupted view of the Mary Rose thanks to a £5.4m development

The Mary Rose has been described as Britain’s Pompeii and who am I to disagree? The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world and last year the museum reopened, enabling us to all see this magnificent vessel as it has never been seen before, with panoramic views of the 9 different galleries.

Several years ago I was fortunate to get a rare opportunity to see at close hand many of the artefacts, such as hair combs, plates, cutlery and boots – all in astonishing condition, despite having lain on the sea bed for hundreds of years. The new museum has thousands of such artefacts on display and it is well worth spending time viewing these impressive items to imagine what life on board the ship would have been like all those centuries ago.

In my book, the Mary Rose museum is worth the admission fee alone – but there are plenty of others things to see and do, whatever your age or interests. It is worth noting also that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard does offer All Attraction Tickets at great value - £28, if you book online, which can then be used all-year round. So if you want to revisit, or go to one of the off-site attractions such as the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport across the water, you can do so without paying an additional fee.

Inside the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport. Included within the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard All Attractions Ticket

HMS Victory

My next favourite destination in the Historic Dockyard has to be HMS Victory. The ship is still officially in active service in the Royal Navy, a tribute to the important role it played in the Battle of Trafalgar as Britain’s flagship under the leadership of Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson.

HMS Victory with HMS Queen Elizabeth in the background, the largest warship ever built for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy, which arrived in Portsmouth in August 2017
As you climb up the steps of this beautiful example of Georgian naval sea power, you can see how the men lived, slept, worked and ate in often perilous conditions. Stand on deck to see where Nelson was fatally wounded and look out across the harbour to appreciate the views and history which surrounds you. HMS Victory is currently undergoing a well-deserved renovation project to support the weight of the ship, but remains open to the public.

What's new at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard?

Family fun at Boathouse 4
These are only just two of the attractions that you can see in the Historic Dockyard. There are several new and recent developments too, including Boathouse 4 which has recently been converted into the Boatbuilding Skills Training Centre, providing opportunities in the traditional craft of boatbuilding and the future relocation of the Royal Marines Museum to the site.

Whether you have children that need to be entertained or you are looking for ideas for older generations to spend a day out – the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard should be high on your list.

Boathouse 4
By Simon Frost
Hibou Communication

Find more things to do in Hampshire on the Visit South East England website.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Sumertime at Blenheim Palace

There’s still time to enjoy some amazing events at Blenheim Palace before the summer holidays come to an end.

Whether it’s open air family theatre production or transport festivals there is something for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

Whatever the weather there are a whole host of indoor and outdoor interactive activities to join in.

What's on at Blenheim Palace

If the sun is shining head outdoors to make the most of the 2,000 acre World Heritage Site with Pony Rides in the Park, 26 – 27 August or picnics overlooking the ‘Finest View in England’.

Let adventure run wild as you explore the ‘Capability’ Brown Parkland surrounding Blenheim Palace. With over 300 years of history there are plenty of myths and legends to discover as you wander around the Estate. Journey to Fair Rosamund’s Well, visit the famous Harry Potter tree and see inside the Temple of Diana, where Winston Churchill proposed to his beloved Clementine during a summer downpour.

On Sunday 27 August the Pleasure Gardens are playing host to Immersion Theatre’s Wind in the Willows. The race is on to save Toad Hall! Everyone will enjoy the interactive show with Ratty, Mole, Badger and of course, Toad!

Plus from 27 – 28 August the annual Festival of Transport roars back to Blenheim Palace. Sunday 27th August will feature the Classic Car Show and Monday 28th August will include not only the Classic Cars, but also motorcycles, Minis and VW's, Customs, Hot Rods and Americans, Kit and Sports Cars. Learn more about automobiles during your visit.

If the weather isn’t as glorious head indoors where the Palace is leading Upstairs Tours and Downstairs Tours alongside visits to the Duke’s Private Apartments, the State Rooms and exhibitions charting the life of Sir Winston Churchill, who was born at Blenheim Palace.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Welcomes the HMS Queen Elizabeth to Portsmouth

HMS Victory with HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Background, NMRN close-up

What would Vice Admiral Lord Nelson make of it? The new Queen Elizabeth class carrier is 35 times the size of his famous flagship HMS Victory and four times her length. Visitors to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will get the very best view of Britain’s largest aircraft carrier ever built this summer now she has arrived in her home port.

Views of the 65,000 tonne, 280-metre long carrier are possible from HMS Victory’s poop deck, the viewing platform of The National Museum of the Royal Navy and from the water on a harbour tour and are sure to be top of everyone’s bucket list.

Victory, a harbour tour and the National Museum are included in the Historic Dockyard’s all attraction ticket which includes 11 attractions charting the ins and outs of Britain’s 800 years of ground-breaking naval heritage.

Director of Visitor Experience John Rawlinson says:

'The excitement is palpable about the arrival of the carriers. The best views of the carrier will be from our site and I can think of no better place to view this naval icon than from the ships that have defined our history like HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and the Mary Rose. The future of the Royal Navy is firmly embedded with the past – it will be a real highlight for our visitors and an absolute must-see.'

To coincide with the carrier’s arrival into Portsmouth, there is a new Aircraft Carrier exhibition in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Storehouse Number 9.

For more than a century, the Royal Navy has led the way in operating aircraft from ships, and designing and building specialist aircraft carriers. The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2017 and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales in 2020 marks the latest phase in this long history.

The exhibition charts the unique history of aircraft carrier development, from the beginnings of naval aviation where reconnaissance sea planes were craned on and off converted cruisers, through to the first specialist seaplane carrier HMS Hermes in 1924, to HMS Illustrious the last of the ‘innovative jump jet carriers’ decommissioned in 2014.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Tractor Ted Brings Little Farm Live to Stonor Park

Stonor Park are delighted to announce that Tractor Ted will be back to Stonor on the 3rd of September and bringing with them their real life Little Farm.

Located adjacent to Wonder Woods Adventure play park, Tractor Ted Little Farm LIVE will give all children the opportunity for some hands on fun.

The perfect opportunity for young children to get up close to some furry and feathery friends and learn about some of their amazing features. Kids will be able to explore some amazing facts through a Fun Farm Activity Trail complete with certificates and stickers.

That is not all, Tractor Ted will be bringing along some fun farm activities, plus the return of the bouncy castle. The Digger Den, which is new to Stonor, tests dexterity and skill as kids scoop up balls with mini diggers whilst the Welly Wanging, fun for all the family, will be in full swing close by. For those future farmers, kids can head off to the Tractor Ted Driving School for some pedal tractor fun!!

There will be lots more to see including our tractor and trailer offering rides around the park.

Do keep some time to visit Wonder Woods, our new adventure play park for kids up to 15. For the younger children, the play area has a raised play house and slide surrounded by soft sand and a water pump, which diverts water through a series of channels and water wheels. Add in swings, wobble dish and see-saw there is so much fun to be had. For the slightly older children there is the zip wire and our fantastic tower with slides located at the top of the park. Surrounded by trees and grassed, there are lots of seating areas for the family. Refreshments and facilities are close by at the visitor centre.

Fringe Programme Launches at 2017 Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival

Now in its 7th Year, the Arts by the Sea Festival continues to grow and develop. This is clearly demonstrated by the introduction of the Arts by the Sea Fringe event, taking place in October, which will dovetail with the core Arts by the Sea programme. It will encompass a range of locations across the town including the Bandstand , theatres, cafés , gig spaces and music venues.

The 2017 Festival theme is ‘Plastic Beach’, which invites artists and creative partners to explore the tension between ecology and industry. The Fringe includes events which have interpreted this in ways that range from the direct to the subtle. Arts by the Sea is committed to delivering as green an event as possible and awareness of marine pollution and other environmental problems are raised through many of this year’s performances, exhibitions and installations.

What are the highlights?

Fringe highlights include two film focused events, The Short Sounds Festival, brought to you by Bournemouth based White Lantern Film, a dedicated celebration of cinematic sound and music and Wimborne’s Ocean Film Festival taking place at the beautiful Tivoli Theatre. Elsewhere, SoFar Sounds will be offering secret acoustic gigs across town, One World by the Sea explores the influence of international culture and diversity on local cinema, music, dance and food, and a multi-faceted party at long standing Bournemouth venue 60 Million Postcards will be dedicated to the seminal 2010 Gorillaz album Plastic Beach.

Improviso are a period music ensemble performing 'Elizabethan rock n’ roll', artist Rosemary Edwards curates A Drop in The Sea which draws attention to the fact that plastic outlives humans, while Animystic Productions bring us Hessi the Elephant who will be roaming around central Bournemouth with her keeper Dr Sticke, reciting the wonders and magic of the elephant world. There will be further act announcements over the next few weeks.

Roxy Robinson, Creative Producer, said:

'We are delighted to have introduced a platform for independent artists, producers and promoters to showcase their work via the official Arts by the Sea Fringe Festival.

'The Fringe has allowed Arts by the Sea to expand its programme of events, develop new audiences and forge new partnerships with creatives across Bournemouth and Poole.

'From film festivals to secret pop-up gigs, as well as a whole strand of events dedicated to celebrating the international community in the town, the Fringe will present a diverse range of ticketed and free entertainment. As well as experiencing the core offering of Arts by the Sea, don't miss supporting grassroots talent in Bournemouth, brought to you by the Fringe.'

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Discover the story of your drinking water at Twyford Waterworks' Open Day

The historic clean water pumping station at Twyford Waterworks, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, will be open for visitors to discover how water was, and still is abstracted from deep beneath the Downs on Sunday 4th September. On display will be steam, diesel and electric pumps, all original to the site, along with the water softening works, industrial railway and unique water powered engines. It will also form the picturesque backdrop to the annual gathering of classic vehicles which range from the diminutive Austen Seven to the large fire engine.

Matthew Feldwick, a volunteer for the charitable trust that runs the Waterworks said:

'We look forward to showing people the wonders of engineering and welcoming visitors to this historic site; one of the hidden gems of Hampshire'

Admission is £5 for adults, £4 for concessions and children under 16 are free. Open from 11.00am to 4.00pm the site also boasts a tea room offering refreshments, free guided tours, picnic sites and a nature trail.

Gift Aid Helps Fund Vital Restoration Projects at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace has announced it has raised in excess of £200,000 in Gift Aid so far this year.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, was officially designated as a charity in January.

Its new status has allowed Blenheim Palace to operate the Gift Aid scheme which enables charities to claim back income tax on donations made by visitors who are also UK taxpayers.

This means they can claim back 25p for every £1 donated from the government; boosting the value of the donation by a quarter.

What will it be spent on?

All the money raised is being used to help fund critical restoration and conservation work on the 18th century Oxfordshire stately home which is widely regarded as one of Sir John Vanbrugh’s greatest achievements.

'We are extremely pleased with the overwhelmingly positive response we have received from visitors following our decision to become a charity at the start of the year,” said Blenheim Palace’s Dominic Hare.

'The money raised is helping us fund a variety of essential maintenance programmes including urgent repair work on 18th century Bladon Bridge, repairs to original plaster work ceilings in the staterooms and renovating the gilded cast iron Flagstaff gates to the Palace.

'It will also enable us to improve the heating system; both to save energy as well as create a better environment for the long term preservation of the many treasures within the Palace itself,' he added.

Widely regarded as a masterpiece of 18th century Baroque architecture, ‘Britain’s Greatest Palace’ was originally built to celebrate the First Duke of Marlborough’s famous military triumphs against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, which culminated in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim.

At the time the victory was hailed as the greatest British military success since Agincourt and, as a mark of a grateful nation, Queen Anne financed the building of Blenheim Palace.

Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim in 1874 and spent much of his childhood there. He even proposed to his beloved wife Clementine in the Temple of Diana in 1908 during a summer downpour.

Winston’s love of Blenheim Palace remained to his dying day, he chose to be buried beside his parents in the cemetery of St Martin’s Church in Bladon – the tower of which can be seen from the Palace.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

‘The Making of a Royal Marines Commando’ exhibition finds new home in Action Stations at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

A permanent new gallery describing the training of Royal Marines Commandos has been relocated from the Royal Marines Museum in Eastney to Action Stations in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

What to expect during the exhibition 

‘The Making of a Royal Marines Commando’ takes visitors stage by stage through the 30 weeks of RM Commando training and gives them the opportunity to step into the boots of an RM Recruit. Using a broad mix of interactive exhibits, from high tech ones like an SA80 rifle simulator, to finding out how to fold your shirt ‘Globe and Laurel’ style, the exhibition requires active participation from visitors! It also includes a range of objects especially acquired for the exhibition, including equipment used by Mountain Leaders, Snipers and Aircrewmen. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the display is that most of the narrative for the exhibition is through the words of Royal Marines themselves.

Nine ‘raw’ Royal Marine recruits were recorded as they embarked upon one of the most demanding military training courses in the world at Lympstone’s Royal Marines Commando Training Centre. They tell their story – from their earliest thoughts on arrival at Lympstone, through to their reflections on earning the coveted Green Beret. This is complimented by moving and still images, and sets which include part of an Inflatable Raiding Craft and an original kit locker from the Foundation Wing at Lympstone where recruits spend their first few weeks.

Head of Exhibition and Collections, Nick Hewitt says:

 'This dynamic gallery combines interactive displays, physical activity and personal stories; it brings visitors close to the unique ethos of the Royal Marines – courage, determination, unselfishness and cheerfulness'.

Located in Action Stations, where you can also scale a climbing wall, experience the thrills of piloting a Merlin helicopter and test your skills on the on the Ninja Force assault course, the new exhibition is well integrated alongside high-octane and high-tech activities for all the family to enjoy.

Monday, 7 August 2017

The UK’s Longest and Highest Tree-top Walkway opens at Kent's Groombridge Place

For an unforgettable family adventure this summer, visit Groombridge Place near Tunbridge Wells, to discover the amazing new handcrafted Treetops Walkway which is an incredible 350m long and stands at over 20m above the forest floor.

The Tree-tops Walkway is set to open next Monday (14th August)

Discover a unique world as you explore life in the tree tops of Groombridge Place.

Experience something truly magical as you climb higher and higher along the ropes into the tree canopy of the huge Oak, Pine, Beech and Chestnut trees which make up this ancient forest.

Owner of Groombridge Place, Justin Bodle said:

 'As part of a major new expansion programme, we have installed an exhilarating new experience at our attraction like no other in the UK.

'We have also built a new ship at Crusoe’s World and added additional giant tree swings in the forest.'

For nature lovers, this is a chance to see the wildlife living in the tree canopy and observe the beautiful Fallow Deer which frequent the forest.

There are sturdy wooden platforms at the beginning and end of the Treetops Walkway and a big chunky 4-sided rope ladder provides an additional entry and exit point along the away.

The adventure will take at least 30 minutes to complete and the 360 degree views are well worth the exhilarating climb.

The experience is safe for everyone but we suggest children under 8 are accompanied by an adult at all times.

Groombridge Place is located just outside of Tunbridge Wells with its main line station with regular daily trains from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge.

Groombridge can be accessed via public transport and via the Spa Valley Heritage Railway (see timetable for days of operation).


  • Adult £14.95 
  • Children (3-12) £12.95
  •  Senior Citizens £12.95 
  • Family (2 adults & 2 children) £49.95. 

Add £5 per person for the tree-top walkway experience. Visitors can also delve into the magical world of Wizards and Monsters with our fun themed event which takes place daily until 20 August. Meet the colourful characters of olde Groombridge and witness the magic of the Wizard and his friends during this fun filled family event.

Open Everyday • 10am - 5:30pm