Blogs for July 2015

When packing for your holiday, the ten things we are most likely to leave behind

Posted on Friday 31st July, 2015

When packing for your holiday, the ten things we are most likely to leave behind

The ten things we are most likely to leave behind

Most people pack the night before and most people make themselves a list. Yet over half the time we manage to leave something behind. One in sixteen say they always arrive at their holiday destination having forgotten to pack something.

According to a survey of holidaymakers by Highways England the items we forget range from the slightly trivial box of matches to the rather more essential medicines, credit card, travel cot or “an entire case of my wife’s clothing”.

So when we set off on the motorway with holiday programmed into the sat nav what are the top ten things us forgetful Brits are likely to have left behind?

10. An item of beach or swimwear

9. Towels

8. Shoes or sandals

7. Razor or shaver

6. A coat or rain mac – well it is a summer holiday

5. Another item of clothing. One in five times it’s the underwear we forget

4. Various items of toiletries

3. A hairbrush or comb

2. Toothbrush and toothpaste – because we pack the night before, then forget

1. The item most often left behind: mobile phone charger


Towing a caravan or trailer on your holiday?

Posted on Thursday 30th July, 2015

Towing a caravan or trailer on your holiday?

Towing a caravan or trailer

Taking a caravan or boat on holiday can be great fun, but getting there requires extra driving skill and some amount of preparation.  The Caravan Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club both offer plenty of advice on safe towing.

The first trip of the summer

Especially if your caravan has been left idle over the winter it’s well worth getting a pre-season check.  Tyres that haven’t moved for a few months, especially if under-inflated, could have cracked. Joints and bearings may have seized and will need lubricating and coaxing back into action. The first trip of the summer season is when you are most likely to have a breakdown this way.

The National Caravan Council has a list of approved workshops and at-home services to arrange a pre-season check for your trailer.


Correctly loading your car and caravan is important for stability – and that means safety. 

Before you set off everything needs to be carefully stowed away. Towing an overloaded caravan is illegal, so check all weights carefully and make sure what weight there is has been evenly and correctly distributed.

Heavy items should be carried close to the axle, preferably slightly ahead, on the floor. Roof lockers should be empty, or virtually so, with the overall intention to lower the centre of gravity. Nose-weight on the tow-ball should be around 5-7% of the caravan’s actual laden weight (typically 50-100kg) but you should never exceed specific limits for the car, caravan and tow-bar.

On the road

Once hitched, the caravan will follow you wherever you go – but don’t be tempted to forget it’s still there!  The caravan is wider than your car and the caravan-car combination is of course a lot longer, so will need to steer and manoeuvre accordingly. Sudden steering can cause the caravan to swing, especially at speed, and the extra weight means you will need to brake carefully and gently, especially going downhill.

Towing needs much greater concentration than just driving and takes its toll on you. It’s sensible to plan for a much slower journey with stops for a break every two hours at least.

When you do stop, it’s sensible to do a walk-round and run through a little routine of checks. Feel the tyres for heat – if they’re abnormally hot they’re probably under-inflated; check the coupling, make sure the lights all still work and that catches are secure. Stand back and check the overall stance; if it’s leaning to one side you may have a broken spring or suspension.

Before you set off again, make sure you have plenty of fuel for the next stint – your range will be much shorter with that heavy weight on the back. As you continue your journey, keep an eye through the mirrors on the behaviour of the trailer – if you suspect any glitch, stop at the earliest possible opportunity to check it out.

Planning your route and journey time

As with all long holiday journeys, you can reduce the stress by planning your journey beforehand and allowing the right amount of time.  Include an allowance for breaks every two hours and for slow traffic, especially on busy days when everybody seems to be heading off at the same time and in the same direction.

Set yourself a reasonable departure time and stick to it! If you set off late it might mean rushing, less times for comfortable breaks and extra stress if you’re held up in slow traffic.

Thousands of people set off later than planned every holiday getaway day.  If you get as much prepared as you can the night before, you’re less likely to be one of them!

Bad weather on the day of travel can have even more of an impact if you’re towing a caravan. You will certainly need to allow more time and plan for a slower journey.  Keep an eye on the five-day weather forecast for your journey, then make a final check the night before so you know if you will have to leave earlier or expect to arrive later.

When strong winds are forecast it might be an idea to check your route and see if you can avoid any major bridges or exposed stretches of road.


Tintagel Castle: Where History Meets Legend

Posted on Thursday 23rd July, 2015

Tintagel Castle: Where History Meets Legend

A new exhibition at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall takes a fresh look at how fact and fiction have contributed to the history of this iconic landmark. The English Heritage exhibition explores the origins of Tintagel’s links to the Arthurian legend, and how this inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build a castle on the rugged coastal spot in the 13th century.

Set in the castle’s visitor centre, the exhibition features exhibits in the shape of oversized open books offering an introduction to Tintagel Castle through the ages. Historic artefacts, an innovative 3D model of the island, and book sculptures representing the castle’s literary fame, bring Tintagel’s mysterious past to life.

Tintagel’s breath-taking location, perched high on the north Cornwall coast, has inspired writers, artists and travellers for centuries. The castle prospered in the 5th and 6th centuries as a mighty royal stronghold and a thriving port – a key part of a vast international trade network – but it was in the 12th century that Tintagel rose to literary stardom.

Scholar Geoffrey of Monmouth first linked Arthur with Tintagel in his History of the Kings of Britain, describing it as the island fortress where Arthur was conceived thanks to the magic of Merlin. The legend has been embellished by writers through the years. It is retold in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King – which has been transformed into a beautiful book sculpture for the new exhibition.

As well as exploring the stories inspired by Tintagel, the exhibition looks at the developments of the iconic landscape through time. The highlight of the exhibition is a new 3D model of the island, which shows the island changing over 1500 years of history.

Ground-breaking techniques have been used to create the detailed model. The whole island has been mapped from above with an unmanned aircraft, to collect high resolution data using a photogrammetric survey. The result is an accurate, scale model of the island and nearby mainland. A projected film and accompanying audio soundscape show the island changing through time – from thriving Dark Age settlement, to medieval fortress, through to romantic ruin.  

English Heritage Senior Properties Historian Susan Greaney comments “Tintagel Castle has a unique story, where archaeology, history and legend are intertwined. The Dark Age settlement may have inspired early legends about the site, which in turn led Earl Richard to choose this location as the site of his medieval castle. For the first time, the exhibition will allow our visitors to find out more about this extraordinary history, and go on to explore the site both informed and inspired by what they have seen”.

As one of Cornwall’s most iconic historic and popular landmarks, Tintagel Castle welcomes nearly 200,000 people every year. Alongside the new exhibition, visitors can now enjoy improved facilities across the site.

The castle’s beach café has undergone a complete refurbishment, with decor combining the area’s industrial heritage with its beachside setting, and a new menu to give a real taste of Cornwall; there are improved ticketing facilities on the mainland courtyard; and the gift shop has been redesigned.

The new exhibition, café, and visitor centre are now open.

Tintagel Castle is open from 10am – 6pm every day throughout the summer.

Click here to find out more about Tintagel Castle.

Very cute Penguin chicks at Paradise Park in Hayle

Posted on Wednesday 15th July, 2015

Very cute Penguin chicks at Paradise Park in Hayle

Staff at Paradise Park in Hayle Cornwall are delighted to have baby Humboldt’s Penguin chicks.

Curator David Woolcock said “These two wonderful little characters are proving very popular with visitors. They are now ten weeks old and have been given the Peruvian names ‘Miski’ and ‘Aurora’. They eat around 200g of fresh fish a day, and are being hand-reared as the eggs were laid outside the nesting caves so not protected from weather or disturbance.

Another younger chick, called ‘Poppy’, was not putting on enough weight when she was with her parents, so the decision was taken to hand-rear her as well. One other chick is being successfully reared by its parents in the nest."

When chicks are in the nest they have fluffy grey down feathers. It takes about three months for them to leave their nests, and by this time they have develop the waterproof plumage they need for swimming. Juveniles are grey and white, only developing the distinctive black and white penguin plumage at a year old. The pattern of dark speckles on their lower chest are unique to each penguin, identifying each individual.

Miski and Aurora are now being introduced to the Humboldt’s Penguin group at Paradise Park, and making regular appearances at the twice daily feeding times.

Please click here for more info on Paradise Park.


The top gardens and country house days out this summer in Cornwall

Posted on Monday 13th July, 2015

The top gardens and country house days out this summer in Cornwall

Cornwall's unique mixture of natural coastal and moorland beauty combined with some of the world’s best beaches and award winning attractions means that it cannot be beaten as a holiday destination.

The ‘Best Days Out Cornwall’ website gives you the top quality attractions including Cornish Mining World Heritage sites, English Heritage and National Trust sites. Incredible gardens and country houses, fascinating industrial heritage, amazing wildlife attractions, and the best in arts, maritime, theme parks and more.

Get lost in the past at Cotehele the Mediaeval home of the Edgcumbe family, with original furniture, armour, rich hangings and tapestries with formal and informal gardens. Lose yourself in the three valleys of Glendurgan Garden, full of fun, natural beauty and amazing plants. Wander through the garden down to the beautiful hamlet of Durgan on the Helford River. Lanhydrock is superbly set in 450 acres of woods and parkland running down to the Fowey River and encircled by formal and woodland gardens, lovely in all seasons. Pencarrow, a Georgian house with 50 acres of Grade 2* Listed Gardens, must be one of Cornwall's finest stately homes. St Michael’s Mount, the iconic rocky island, crowned by a medieval church and castle, with sub-tropical terraced garden and spectacular views of Mount’s Bay and the Lizard from the castle battlements. Trebah Garden is a sub-tropical paradise with a stunning coastal backdrop, set within one of Cornwall’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the result of 175 years of inspired and dedicated creation. Trelissick is a garden of rare beauty, set as the jewel in an estate of 500 acres, which is surrounded by water on three sides. The garden is a plantsman's delight, with collections of rare and exotic shrubs that thrive in the mild Cornish climate. Trengwainton’s 25 acres invite you to explore. Discover a garden where the spirit of the Plant Hunters lives on with a walled kitchen garden and wide open views across Mount’s Bay that will have you reaching for your camera. A delightful small Elizabethan manor house, Trerice is an architectural gem hidden away from the world in a web of narrow lanes and still somehow caught in the spirit of its age.


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