Saturday snippets: 21st May 2016

By | Category: Travel news
G-Force at Drayton Manor © Sam Bagnall. The legacy of the Bryan's.

G-Force at Drayton Manor © Sam Bagnall.

Drayton Manor, the Staffordshire theme park, is expecting to welcome its 50 millionth visitor within the first two weeks of June. The lucky visitor who reaches this milestone will win an unbeatable prize package complete with confetti, balloons, a VIP Thomas Land room with light refreshments and lunch overlooking Thomas Land, a personal visit from the Fat Controller, a personal guide for the day, fast pass entry and exit for the rides all day long, a photo pass to collect up to four photos and a delicious meal for four at the Grill Inn restaurant. They will also get a five year Season Pass, providing unlimited entry to the park, plus a special Stay & Play package for the Drayton Manor Hotel valid for 12 months. If you don’t win, the family theme park has promised to offer 1,000 50p tickets in the days following.

Vivid Sydney in 2014

Vivid Sydney in 2014

Vivid Sydney is about a week away from its start. For 23 nights after 27th of May, the city hosts the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. 141 artists from 23 countries create more than 80 light installations and projections that will appear in more than eight Vivid Sydney precincts spread across Sydney.  Last year more than 1.7 million guests attended Vivid Sydney including 112,000 international and domestic visitors. This year that number will be exceeded. What appeals to me is that the lightshows don’t all happen at one or two sights, they are spread throughout the city so wherever you are, you aren’t too many miles away from one. Now why can’t London or Edinburgh think along those lines rather than using the same old spots?  Few of us will be travelling there to see the sights but you can watch them at

You probably will have seen that the biggest cruise ship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, sailed into Southampton this week. The statistics are quite staggering. It can accommodate 6,780 passengers which is over seven times the size of the village in which I live and has 20 restaurants, 23 swimming pools and 16 guest decks. Is this too big for the average cruise fan? What is an optimum size so that passengers feel cossetted and special? Maybe the crew can make all passengers feel special but I doubt it. If it were a town it would be bigger than Tenby and Ruthin, Portrush and Tipperary, Kelso and Selkirk, Tadcaster and Crediton. I don’t know half of the people in my village. I can’t image that I would get on with a ship the size of a town. What do other readers think?

Anything for publicity still seems to be a Ryanair mantra. The airline has launched a ‘Fly Home to Vote Remain’ seat sale to encourage Britons living overseas to come back for next month’s EU referendum. It is hoping more than 1.2 million ex-pats living in other European countries will vote for the UK to remain part of the EU. It is offering seats on June 22 and June 23, the day of the referendum, from €19.99. Of course people might grab the fares and come home to vote to leave!

Lake Peho in Patagonia Image © Anna Maria Espsäter

Lake Peho in Patagonia
Image © Anna Maria Espsäter

Last year, Patagonia which straddles both Argentina and a bit of Chile celebrated the fact that it was the 150th anniversary of the founding of Welsh settlements there. Next month (Thurs 23 June), the Royal Geographical Society will play host to Patagonia: An Evening with the Experts, a free-to-attend event dedicated to the wildlife, landscapes and people of Patagonia.  The evening, organised by Pura Aventura will see them joined by Bill Oddie, Tuppence Stone and Hugh Sinclair who will talk about their experiences of the area. If you plan to go, you need to register by clicking here or going to

Some people will be holidaying in the Caribbean over half term and that coincides with the first of Aruba‘s major music extravaganzas. The Aruba Soul Beach Music Festival is on May 27 and 28, featuring top names from the world of entertainment such as the Isley Brothers, Miguel, singer-songwriters Fantasia and two-time Grammy nominee Jazmine Sullivan, who will be providing main stage performances. But the festival is more than just about music featuring as it does comedy shows and beach parties as well.

Next year will be a busy one for Protestantism as, traditionally, the letter that Martin Luther penned in late October 1517 is regarded as the start of the Reformation in Europe. The 500th anniversary of the Ninety-Five Theses, as the letter is known, will see exhibitions in Germany and throughout Europe. Rothenburg´s famous Medieval Crime and Justice Museum has already started the anniversary events with an exhibition (it runs until the end of 2018) called, “By the Sword or Religious Conviction – Luther and Witchcraft” which looks at Luther and his attitude towards sorcery and witchcraft and the history of witchcraft from its beginning until the end of the large European witch-hunts.

Under the category of “odd” research comes the conclusion from a survey by the online search engine, Kayak, suggesting that high street travel agents won’t exist in five years’ time if the current rate of decline continues. It claimed that just 19% of UK adults now book their holidays on the high which doesn’t match any oter data result that I know. But here could be the reason. Kayak says it ran the survey only online. Does that not suggest a biased result to you? Kayak might have done this to get its name in the papers. What it does is make you wonder if they can’t assess their own research more accurately, how does the rest of their business fare?


part of the Snowdonia National Park

Even as the Tourism Auuthority of Thailand forecasts an increase of 13.4% in the number of visitors to the country for the third quarter of the year, not all are welcome. According to the Bangkok Post, an island in Thailand’s Similan National Park will not re-open in the autumn because tourists having such a huge impact on the environment of Koh Tachai. The closure – which will be for an unspecified time – will allow for the island’s rehabilitation. Closer to home, in the Snowdonia National Park in Wales, over half a million people climb Snowdon each year. The paths are being damaged by the footfall so the authority is considering levying a charge so that the path can be maintained and protected. I nitially the authority will ask for for voluntary donations. If that doesn’t work, what then? Charges to walk up the mountain?

Finally, what person has not removed” the soap or shampoo from a hotel room? Some people go a lot further it seems.  The low cost online travel agency, has published the results of a survey amongst some people all of whom had taken at least six overseas holidays during the life to date.  Over half said they had nicked something from hotels at which they have stayed. We aren’t talking about little things that have been stolen either. Pool towels, towels from rooms and even cushions top the first three places on the list. Further down the list is bedding and lightbulbs (really?) as well as batteries (where do these people stay?)  and dressing gowns.  two people evn said they had walked off with TV’s (How big is their luggage?) I’m not sure I want to be associated with this travel agency. Having revealed all this, customs might take an extra interest when those holidaymakers return home!

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