Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Now that's funny...............

When everything seems to be coming your way, maybe you're in the wrong lane.

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3rd runway would cut air fares – says Heathrow

HEATHROW has stepped up its battle for expansion by claiming fares would drop if it had a third runway. A report by consultancy Frontier Economics says £300 could be cut from a return air fare by 2030 if the airport was allowed to expand.

It says passengers pay an extra £95 more for an average return because airlines are fighting for space at Heathrow, and this pushes up prices. Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews said: ‘This research shows that not building a third runway at Heathrow will add hundreds of pounds to the cost of a family holiday, be a disincentive to doing business in the UK, and increase the cost of the goods and services that are imported and exported through Britain’s most important trade gateway.’

The study said both Heathrow and Gatwick should be allowed to expand to bring the greatest benefits to passengers, because both airports will be heavily congested by 2030.

Heathrow said with a third runway it would be able to add 40 new direct routes to destinations such as Kolkata (Calcutta), Lima and Mombasa. It would also be able to improve connectivity within the UK, with routes to places such as Inverness, Jersey and Durham – destinations that have been cut as capacity has been squeezed.

Aviation analysts said it would be difficult to calculate the saving.

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Where to stay on Dartmoor

SWEETON MANOR, a 16th century granite-and-thatch manor house sleeping 18 and hidden in Dartmoor National Park, has been added to Helpful Holidays’ collection of self-catering properties in the West Country.

The house – with many barns and an indoor pool – is in four acres of grounds in the West Webburn River valley.

Original beams and period features have been adapted to create a home for modern living with eight bedrooms and six bathrooms.

A week’s stay at Sweeton Manor starts from £3,320 per week (£184 per person per week).

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Sleep all the way to Mexico!

AEROMEXICO, Mexico's global airline, is to incorporate a Boeing 787 in its three weekly flights from London Heathrow to Mexico City. The carrier will be offering 243 seats, 32 of them in Premier Class with flat beds.

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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Hey! - It's a universal law.....

Law of the Bath;

When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

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May Day jousting

BLENHEIM PALACE in Oxfordshire is hosting a May Bank holiday jousting weekend. Each jousting tournament will be staged twice daily over the weekend starting at noon and 3pm.

There will also be falconry and archery displays.

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Can trash fuel planes?

BRITISH AIRWAYS aims to convert landfill waste into jet fuel in a pioneering carbon-saving initiative. It is supporting the creation of the world’s first facility – in Essex, England – to produce sustainable aviation fuel in conjunction with specialist firm Solena Fuels.

Approximately 575,000 tonnes of waste normally destined for landfill or incineration will be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels.

BA has made a long-term commitment to purchase all 50,000 tonnes a year of the jet fuel produced.

One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs at the Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Corringham.

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Island fun

GRAN CANARIA lets its hair down for Canary Islands Day (Día de las Canarias) on May 30. The public holiday celebrates the culture and history of the islands, and welcomes visitors to sample tapas and listen to traditional music at street parties.

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Monday, 28 April 2014

Funnay asides.......

& Quick quips;

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

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Jenkins sings for Britain

OPERA singer Katherine Jenkins has been announced as the latest celebrity signed up to promote British tourism.

She will perform in Istanbul (as part of the GREAT Festival of Creativity) and the US this year as part of a campaign to promote the countryside, culture and heritage in Britain.

Katherine Jenkins

Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain, said: ‘Katherine Jenkins represents our finest home-grown talent and we’re honoured to have her promoting the best of Britain. Hosting the Olympics has given us a big image boost around the world and we are now building on this to increase visitor numbers and spend.  This campaign aims to increase both the visibility of our countryside and the revenue that international visitors bring to the rural economy.’

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Get the city in focus

EVER wondered why your holiday photos of Barcelona, Orlando, Venice or London turn out to be, well, just decent snaps instead of the powerful works of art you’d envisaged?

The Jessops Academy City Tours photography course might be the answer. The one-day workshops are designed to help photographers in both the creative and technical fields. After each image is shot, the trainer provides instant feedback and assistance with adjusting composition and exposure to get the very best from the equipment and the surroundings.

Topics covered include:
·         How to preview and control depth-of field (aperture)
·         Effective use of tripods and supports
·         How to use wide-angle lenses
·         Creative use of white balance and picture styles
·         Composition for people and architectural photography

The£119 course is currently available in the Manchester, Birmingham, Bath, London, Cardiff, Belfast and St. Albans.

For full details, go to

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Tasty attractions

WEST COUNTRY self-catering specialist Helpful Holidays has put together a collection of places to stay within easy reach of some of the region’s delicious dining venues and food and drink outlets, encouraging holidaymakers to indulge in the best local produce on their doorstep.

The tasty attractions and 31 inviting places to stay nearby, which sleep three to 16 guests, are detailed in Helpful Holidays’ new West Country Food and Drink Trails supplement, which is available free from the cottage agency.

For a copy of Helpful Holidays’ West Country Food and Drink Trails and their main brochure call 01647 434063 or visit

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Travel matters.....

‘Happy is the man, I thought, who, before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean sea.’― Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek

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The restaurant made for two …

TRAVELLING is always a gastronomical adventure, but if you really want to challenge your taste buds, go for these more extreme dining experiences uncovered by Go Euro. From alien bars to romantic restaurants just for two, here are four of the most peculiar restaurants in Europe:

Solo Per Due – Vacone, Italy: Meaning Just for Two, this restaurant is exactly as it sounds. What could well be the smallest restaurant in the world provides nothing more than a table for two. When dinner is finished the lights are dimmed, transporting its guests back in time and making it the perfect place for a romantic date. The waiters can be summoned with a silver bell when required. The walls of the restaurant are said to come from the Roman villa of the poet Horace. In addition to the mosaic floors and arched doorways, the Fonte Bandalusia, a natural spring is not too far from the ancient ruins.

H.R. Giger Museum Bar – Gruyères, Switzerland: This was designed by the Swiss artist, H.R. Giger. Its bio-mechanic aesthetic mirrors the design used by Giger in the production of the Alien film series. Whether you’re in the mood for a spooky date, a relaxing afternoon or simply looking to marvel at the unique architecture, this bar is the perfect destination for an unforgettable experience.

Marsden Grotto – Marsden, South Shields, England: Known by locals as the Grotto, this fine dining restaurant has an average exterior, but dig a little deeper and you'll find that it's anything but conventional. From hardened sea smugglers to quarrelsome ghosts, this cool spot carved in the cliffs is steeped in history. The sheer, zigzagging staircase outside, and interior cave were blasted out by Jack the Blaster, a miner who used the cave as a base for his smuggling schemes. If the rumours of haunting don't spook you too much, head to this well-loved, albeit bizarre restaurant for deliciously fresh seafood.

Espai Sucre – Barcelona, Spain: Appetisers and main courses are so passé. Why not skip straight to dessert? Espai Sucre in Barcelona offers a selection of just desserts… no seriously, just desserts. Famous not only for its cooking courses, the restaurant has six different and uniquely exciting menus. The smaller menu offers a small chocolate cream coffee, lemon cress and mint kefir. There is also a chocolate menu and cheese menu each consisting of three desserts. 

Hungry yet?

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Norfolk, where life’s a beach

CROMER Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign to back Norfolk’s beaches. The aim of the campaign is to reach out UK residents living within reasonable travelling distance of the county and encourage them to book at least one UK holiday near their favourite Norfolk beach destination.

Cromer wants to encourage locals and visitors to take ownership of Norfolk beaches as places to go and enjoy more frequently, whether it be for the day, a short break, a week or more. 
Martin Torrens, marketing director at, says: ‘In the wake of the winter storms it is important for Brits to get behind their favourite beaches and check in for some spring or summer fun.

‘Britain's beaches are bouncing back and raring to go for the season. Cromer is certainly up and running, and other beach destinations up and down the coast that may have been hit harder need our support, too.’

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Guernsey nosh on show

TV chef, author and Guernsey tourism ambassador, James Strawbridge, is to front a foodie weekend on Guernsey. The weekend – May 16-18 – will feature cookery demonstrations by Strawbridge at the 'Seafront Sunday' festival in the capital, St. Peter Port, tastings of Guernsey produce, cocktail masterclasses, wine tastings and guided tours with island producers.

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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Revealed … the Secrets of Greece

FROM April through to August 31, Athens International Airport – in co-operation with Geo Routes Cultural Institute –is staging a photography exhibition highlighting the Secrets of Greece.

The aim of the exhibition – in the arrivals hall – is to spotlight the unexpected beauty and surprising complexity of Greece.

The Secrets of Greece displayed at the airport are:
  • Mount Olympus  … In the Footprints of the Gods
  • Lavreotiki … The Technological and Cultural Park at Lavrion, Attica
  • Amorgos Island … St. Fanourios Church
  • Epirus … Dilofo Village
  • North-West Macedonia … St. Achillios at the Lakes of Prespa
  • East Mani in the Peloponnese … The Diros Caves

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BA’s top 40 countdown

THEY say life begins at 40, and for many, holidays also get better with age. A  British Airways survey found  that being active, having the money to travel, and being commitment-free were among the top reasons why travel gets better with age,

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, British Airways has compiled its list of the top 40 travel experiences.

1.       Make a friend for life at one of Ibiza’s legendary clubs – Pacha, Space, DC10….
2.      Wear something risqué to the Berlin Love Parade
3.      Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
4.      Recreate the scene from ‘Big’ on the giant piano at FAO Schwarz in New York
5.      Hit the beach for a ‘full moon party’ in Koh Phangan, Thailand
6.      Have a selfie with Mickey Mouse and gang at Disney World,       Florida
7.      Dedicate a day to the Aquaventure Waterpark at the Atlantis in Dubai
8.     Go BASE Jumping in Angel Falls, Venezuela
9.      Belly dance in Morocco
10.  Have a tattoo by Kat Von D at ‘High Voltage’ in Los Angeles
11.   Propose at the ‘Love Lock’ bridge in Paris
12.  Go to the Soundwave Festival in Croatia
13.  Bungee jump from the world’s most terrifying spot - The Nevis, Queenstown, New Zealand
14.  Have a shot of Absinthe in the Moulin Rouge in Paris 
15.   Hike the 26 mile Inca Trail in Peru
16.  Learn to tango in Buenos Aires
17.   Take a surfing lesson in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii
18.  Work a season at a Kibbutz, Israel
19.  Enjoy a rooftop cocktail at Bar 360 in Dubai
20. Go full throttle with a 4x4 experience in Fraser Island, Australia
21.  Go ‘loco’ at ‘Coco Bongos’ in Cancun
22. Experience Amsterdam
23. Experience Bangkok
24. Take a 829ft ‘Sky Jump’ off the Stratosphere, Las Vegas
25.  Go to a foam party in Ayia Napa, Cyprus
26. Do a ‘Sex and the City’ weekend with the girls in New York
27.  Go on a stag night to Prague
28. Salsa with a stranger at the Rio Carnival
29. Party on the piste at the ‘Snowbombing Festival’ in Mayrhofen, Austria
30. When it opens this summer, take on ‘Zumanjaro: The Drop of Doom’ - the world’s largest roller coaster in New Jersey
31.  Go on an ‘Inbetweeners’ inspired boat party in Malia
32. Go zip lining in Costa Rica’s Selvatura Park
33. Cheer as an aircraft flies over you at Bora Bora beach, Ibiza
34. Dress Harajuku style in Shibuya, Tokyo
35.  Embarrass yourself in front of strangers on the mechanical bull in the Saddle Ranch, Los Angeles
36. Cut loose at the Burning Man festival in Nevada
37.  Feel out of place at spring break in Tijuana, Mexico!
38. Before high blood pressure becomes a problem, take a rickshaw ride in Delhi
39. Gorge in Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York
40. Visit the world famous San Diego Zoo

To coincide with the airline’s anniversary, Amberley Publishing has released British Airways: An Illustrated History by Paul Jarvis (£17.99).

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Tee off in Sicily

GOLFERS across the north-west of England have the perfect reason to head to Sicily to discover the new rising star of Italian golf from this spring onwards following the launch of a new flight service from Manchester to the largest island in the Mediterranean.
easyJet has started a twice-weekly service from Manchester to Catania airport, making the five-star Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa more accessible.
Latest figures revealed by the venue show that the number of golfers visiting from the UK almost quadrupled in 2013 compared to the previous year.
Donnafugata recently opened its Darren Clarke Centre of Excellence, the first facility of its kind in continental Europe, offering expert teaching under the guidance of the resort's head professional Davide Terrinoni through individual and group lessons.
Guy Roberts, director of golf at Donnafugata Golf Resort, said: ‘The UK has been one of our biggest growth markets over the last 18 months and the launch of new flights like the one from Manchester will help to increase the popularity of the resort.’

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They went where?

DESPITE a long tradition of exploration and discovery, British people appear at a loss when trying to matching explorers with the journeys they actually took, according to an Expedia survey. Even when it comes to the most famous and highly regarded explorers, fewer than one in three could say accurately name where they had gone. More than 85 percent said that Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus had the greatest impact on the modern world, yet only 23 percent and 31 percent respectively correctly named their famous journeys. .
Most notable was Christopher Columbus. Eighty-eight percent of Brits say he had the greatest bearing on the world as we know it, yet 70 percent confused his achievements with Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the earth, or credited him with Sir Walter Raleigh's discovery of tobacco and potatoes.

Go Holiday editor David Kernek comments: Is this because British schools long ago gave up teaching basic history and geography as these subjects were once taught?

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Friday, 25 April 2014

Funny asides.......

..........& Quick Quips

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

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Take a walk in Scotland, from west to east

THE life and legacy of John Muir, the Scots-born naturalist and founder of America's National Parks, is being celebrated with the opening of a new coast-to-coast pathway across the heart of Scotland.

The John Muir Way walking trail stretches 134 miles from Helensburgh in the west to Dunbar in the east. 

From the Banks of Loch Lomond to Edinburgh, the tour takes walkers through mountains, lochs, canals and coastal scenery to see Scotland at its very best. 

Described by the New York Times as, 'one of the greatest thinkers of America', Muir's activism was pivotal in preserving some of North America's great parks: Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas. 

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Back to the bucket and spade …

FAMILY holidays are coming back in a big way. According to VisitEngland’s travel trends report, England’s baby boom and ageing population will see more three-generation family holidays booked in the next ten years than ever before.

VisitEngland rounds up the best of the English seaside for all the family:

Lincolnshire: Serene, unspoilt and a little bit wild

East Lincolnshire’s tranquil charms take nothing away from its huge family appeal. Cleethorpes near Grimsby has three miles of unadulterated Blue Flag beaches, with plenty of space to fly a kite, play beach games or simply dig your toes into the soft honey-hued sand while eating fish and chips.

Isle of Wight: Dino history

Explore the Isle of Wight in a fun and unusual way while following in the footsteps of gentle, lumbering giants – and that doesn’t mean trailing after your grandparents all day! The Dinosaur Island App is designed to trigger off at six different dino hot spots, allowing you to see exactly which ones were uncovered there. You can even use the app to take pictures of family members unwittingly posing next to Iguanodons, T-Rexes and more – just point your smartphone or tablet and click.

Maldon, Essex: Anglo-Saxon heritage

High up on a hill overlooking the Blackwater estuary, the ancient riverside town of Maeldune has a rich history. Discover its full story at the Heritage Centre’s 42ft-long Maldon Embroidery, bringing to life 1,000 years since Earl Byrhtnoth’s heroic battle against Viking marauders in 911 AD. Take a trip back in time on one of England’s last remaining Thames Sailing Barges, whose rust-coloured sails were a common sight amongst 19th century mercantile fleets.

Sunderland, Tyne and Wear: Beachside frolics and cosmopolitan nights

Don’t be fooled by its modernist architecture and grandiose construction. Sunderland bears strong traces of England’s traditional seaside within its regenerated beach resorts, Roker and Seaburn. Armed with buckets and spades, kids can happily while away the afternoon building sandcastles, peering into rock pools, playing ball games and throwing frisbees.

Weston-super-Mare, Somerset: Seaside nostalgia mixed with modern thrills

Donkey rides across miles of sand, fish and chips along the vast prom, theme park rides on a colossal new pier… when Weston-super-Mare does ‘family seaside holiday’ it does in to the nth degree. Those old enough to remember the English seaside’s golden age can re-live them at the Weston-super-Mare Museum. Down by the seafront, the renovated Grand Pier has all the pleasures you might expect, from stomach-churning rides to penny slot machines and a double-sided helter skelter – though older generations might opt to relax in the Edwardian-style tearooms instead.

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O’Hare gets terminal revamp

PASSENGERS entering the US at Chicago will find a new international terminal at O'Hare airport, where a $26 million re-building project has been completed. It features 24 new luxury retail and dining outlets – including 11 local Chicago brands.

‘The new international terminal revolutionizes the traveller experience and will provide vital economic opportunity for years to come," said Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel. 

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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Travel matters.........

‘Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.’
Bertrand Russell

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Out and about in York

PLANNING a holiday in or close to North Yorkshire? Don’t miss these attractions in York  ...

The Georgian passion for fashion at Fairfax House: Some of the finest accessories of the 18th century are on display in a major fashion exhibition – Head to Toe: Accessorising the Georgians – which runs until November. Accessories dating from 1700 to 1820 and featuring shoes, fans, hats, waistcoats, garters, stockings, buttons, and gloves. Male accessories form a key part of the exhibition, revealing that vanity and the pursuit of fashion was not something for women only. Other key pieces include a set of patches worn to conceal smallpox marks on the face, and even eyebrows made from mouse hair.

Richard III Experience at Monk Bar, and Henry VII Experience at Micklegate Bar: Two attractions about the last Plantagenet monarch, the much-maligned Richard III, and the first Tudor king, Henry VII.  Each attraction within one of York’s historic Bars – gateways into the city – covering the period from Richard III’s rise to power at the end of the Wars of the Roses and his subsequent death at the Battle of Bosworth, to the rise of his nemesis, Henry VII, including stories of medicine, health and life within late medieval and early Tudor York.

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All aboard!

KEY LARGO tour operator Largo Looker recently opened in the Florida Keys, where it offers glass-bottom boat tours in a high-speed hydrofoil vessel that rides on the ocean surface.
The vessel features a six-by-10-foot viewing glass so guests can enjoy the only living coral reef in the continental United States. Passengers have plenty of room in which to view the tropical fish, coral formations and marine life up close and in comfort.
Tickets are $65 (£38.65) per person plus tax.

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When cost counts …

A SURVEY by Holiday Gems found that almost four in ten Brits consider cost to be the most important factor when choosing a holiday.  The next priority is the weather. 

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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Capital golf

LISBON GOLF, which manages seven unsung courses close to the Portuguese capital, has launched an English version of its website – It features descriptions of the courses, a guide to key attributes of the region, weather information and news about flights to Lisbon from 10 UK and Irish airports.

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VisitEngland creates the country’s Hall of Fame

FROM Downton Abbey and Magna Carta to rugby and the Bakewell Pudding, England’s ultimate Hall of Fame has been revealed to celebrate St George’s Day.

The Hall of Fame exhibition opens to the public today – St George’s Day. Running for one week until April 30, the free open-air exhibition is at Observation Point on London’s South Bank.

The search to establish England’s Hall of Fame began in February when the tourist board asked the public to submit their suggestions. A panel of experts has awarded a bronze, silver and gold across six categories, to celebrate the best of what England has brought to the world and what makes the country such a diverse and fascinating place to explore.

England’s ultimate Hall of Fame consists of:

History & Heritage
Bronze – The four surviving original copies of Magna Carta, sealed in 1215 at Runnymede, Surrey, and regarded by historians as the foundation of constitutional liberty in the English-speaking world.

Silver – The smooth lawns and sweeping vistas of England’s landscaping master, Capability Brown.

Gold – Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the world's oldest industrial complex and a crucial part of England’s naval heritage.

The Great, the Good and the Notorious
Bronze – Banksy, whose original murals can be spotted on a guided tour of Bristol’s street art

Silver – Robin Hood, England's lovable outlaw.

Gold – Founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill.

Food & Drink

Bronze – The Bakewell Pudding, first made at a local inn in Derbyshire during the 19th century.

Silver – England's oldest working gin distillery in Plymouth.

Gold – The sandwich, an essential part of afternoon tea, which was named in honour of its inventor, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.

Inventions & Discoveries

Bronze – England as the birthplace of the steam locomotive.

Silver – Sir Isaac Newton’s family home at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, where the English physicist and mathematician developed his theory of gravity.

Gold – Isambard Kingdom Brunel's engineering masterpieces in Bristol, including the magnificent Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain passenger steamship.

Sport & Leisure

Bronze –The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, established in 1829.

Silver – The home of tennis, from Hampton Court Palace in Richmond-upon-Thames, where the sport is thought to have been invented, to Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum

Gold – The incidental birth of modern rugby during a football game at Rugby School in Warwickshire

Culture & Entertainment

Bronze – Glastonbury, the granddaddy of all festivals in Somerset.

Silver –Hampshire’s Highclere Castle, the real-life location of ITV’s hugely successful Downton Abbey.

Gold – The Beatles.

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