Saturday snippets: 30th of July 2016

By | Category: Travel news
Humboldt penguin chicks © Mark Hemsworth.

Humboldt penguin chick © Mark Hemsworth.

Babies always appeal. At Warwick Castle for the first time in four years, a brood of newborn peachicks (baby peacocks) have been born. Born. Now the public is being asked to suggest names for the. You can do that by going to the Warwick Castle Facebook page.

There are more babies at Birdland Park & Gardens in Gloucestershire. Three Humboldt penguin chicks has hatched. Humboldt penguins are officially listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature which means they are at immediate or imminent risk of becoming endangered. These three chicks couldn’t have timed it better now that the summer holidays are upon us and, just like at Warwick Castle, visitor numbers should rise.

Hardly a day goes by without some atrocity in either France of Germany. Tourism to Turkey has been hit hard by the attacks there and it looks as though we might be seeing reduced interest in visiting France. Air France has announced a downturn in numbers flying with them and the suggestion is that events in Rouen, Nice and elsewhere are dissuading people from holidaying in at least parts of France. Now they face a strike by cabin crews until early next week. About 30% of overseas flights are affected. the airline or your travel agent should have contacted you. You can cancel or postpone without losing any monies paid.

Last week we were told that the queues building up to get to Dover were due to increased security checking by French authorities. On Thursday at about 7am, friends of mine drove to catch Le Shuttle to France. With nary a glance, the security guards who were deep in conversation just waived the husband and wife plus their children through. Is this heightened security? This Saturday is likely to be the busiest on French roads and is known as Black Saturday. Be prepared for long traffic jams if you happen to be driving through France tomorrow.

Beatrix PotterThursday saw the 150th anniversary of the birth of children’s author, conservationist, artist and biologist Beatrix Potter. Three weeks ago, the Saturday Snippets column drew attention to some of the celebrations and the finding of some new drawings in Suffolk. Came the day and it was announced that a third of the 100,000 people who visit her home, Hill Top Farm, in the Lake District, came from overseas. Now a delegation is off to China to encourage more visitors from there to drop by Hill Top when they are over here. Given all the television and other media coverage leading p to and including the day, more people will probably visit the area in the year ahead.

In many media reports it was reported that she left her home to the National Trust. During her lifetime in the Lake District she bought fourteen farms so that, on her death, some 5,000 acres of land were gifted to the Trust. Today the Trust owns about a quarter of the land making up the Lake District National Park. Had she not gifted her land how might the landscape be today as the most popular national park tourist area in the UK?

The US state of Massachusetts has had its travel budget cut. And savagely. It has been reduced from about $9 million to just $659,666 as part of a wider budget strategy to plug a hole of $256 million in the state’s budget. Tourism is the state’s third largest industry and a reduction in the budget by over 90% must have an effect as it generates over a billion dollars in taxes for the state. Only time will tell what impact it will have. In the meantime don’t look for too many ads promoting Boston, Salem, Cape Cod or other places in the state.

the Cuba most people would think of - sandy beaches and warm seas

the Cuba most people would think of – sandy beaches and warm seas

On Thursday, Thomas Cook announced that it was seeing fewer holidaymakers booking Turkey, not surprising really when you consider it has faced a coup d’etat plus numerous bombings in the last few months. But does this explain why bookings have dropped by 5%? Aren’t holidaymakers picking a different destination? It looks as though the staycation boom might be true for this summer. The tour operator says that Cuba, Bulgaria and the the western Mediterranean are proving popular.

Pokemon Go has become the latest faddy high-tech game. The game operates by having Pokestops and other virtual sites spread around much of the real world. Gamesters hunt them down. But some sites are unhappy about being included. The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC has been removed and the park in Hiroshima where millions remember the lives lost in the dropping of the atomic bomb is requesting it be removed as well. But it is attracting people to tourist sites they might not otherwise visit.

The cruise option becomes even more appealing to holidaymakers after the terrorist attacks of recent months. Anecdotally, I hear that there has been a big increase in people booking what they see as a safer holiday and one where you have no currency fluctuations. Once hooked on a cruise it seems the interest rises. Over 60% of cruise guests took more than one cruise in 2015 and half of cruise passengers took two or three cruises during 2015.Nearly two-thirds took at least two, and some more than six including my wife’s uncle who up until three years ago had never taken one and who wasn’t that interested in holidays at all. Guess where he is this weekend? Yes, on a cruise around Iceland.

A lucky person in the Australian state of NSW has won a sweepstake. What he has won is a holiday resort on the island of Kosrae in the Pacific Ocean called Kosrae Nautilus Resort. The present owners decided to raffle off the complex as they were returning to Australia. The lucky (?) winner gets a sixteen room resort along with a swimming pool and a private beach. He has been a bit shy in naming himself so far but can expect to be occupied as there is still 20 years left on the lease before it reverts back to Micronesia.

the Tyrwhitt-Drake Armada portrait that has been saved for the nation

the Tyrwhitt-Drake Armada portrait that has been saved for the nation

The portrait of Elizabeth I that we featured a little ago when it was announced that it would be lost to the nation unless monies could be raise has been successful. The Armada portrait, thought to have been painted in 1590, was being sold by descendants of Sir Francis Drake. An Art Fund appeal generated £1.5m from 8,000 donations and we thank those readers who contributed. In addition, the Heritage Lottery Fund gave £7.4m and the Art Fund and Royal Museums Greenwich were major donors. The picture will go on show at the Queen’s House in Greenwich in October.

Bristol Airport has opened the first phase of the extension to its western terminal. Ten security lanes will have opened by the end of this weekend so travellers should be able to pass through the terminal a bit faster than previously. The rest of the changes should be completed by the end of next year. The enlarged baggage reclaim area for incoming passengers won’t be ready until later this year.

Here is a story to appeal. PieFest 2016 will occur in two weeks’ time (13th and 14th of August) in, where else, but Melton Mowbray.   At this inaugural celebration of pies, visitors will be able to sample pies, buy pies, eat pies and even learn how to make their own pies. Many of the UK’s awarding-winning pie makers will be at the event selling their pies including past Supreme Champions of the British Pie Awards. PieFest will also include talks, tastings, demonstrations and workshops on how to make the perfect pie.

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