www.bluechipholidays.com • Spring 2011
Indoors Outdoors T h e m a g a zi n e o f Bl ue Chi p Holidays
Spring is in the air School holiday fun We round up the best activities for Half Term & Easter
Learn Something New Try water-sports in 2011
a luxury break in the South West
See inside: Hot Properties • Pirates Ahoy! • Invest in a holiday home • And much more!
t’s that time of year again. Christmas is over and, faced with chilly days and dark evenings, many of us turn to the internet and brochures to start planning our year’s holidays. In this edition of Indoors & Outdoors, we have lots of ideas to inspire you. We’ve previewed the best events coming up through to May and reflected on a few we’ve visited since the last issue. We’ve also showcased more of the attractions to have won tourism awards recently in Devon and Cornwall. Let’s face it, the British weather means that we can’t always spend our holidays lying on a beach. So why not take the opportunity to learn something new. British Bodyboarding Champion, Rob Barber has some suggestions and shares his inside knowledge of the best places to learn water-sports. For those curious about buying a second home, we’ve asked Liz Gill of the Financial Times to examine what you need to consider as an investor and to recommend some of the UK’s holiday home hotspots. Our portfolio at Blue Chip Holidays is growing all the time and, in each of the three 2011 editions of the magazine, we’ll profile some of the best new properties we have to offer along with some of our most unusual or exciting homes. Happy planning!
Alan Taylor Managing Director
See you soon Alan Taylor Managing Director
The Magazine Team Editor Melanie Hoskin Deputy Editor Ewan Davy Design Joseph Gurney Contributing writers Katy De Looze, Rossi Mirehsan Guest writers Liz Gill, Alice Eason, Rob Barber
C O N T E N T S
Phone 0844 704 1735 Web www.bluechipholidays.com Email email@example.com Facebook facebook.com/BlueChipHolidays
Order our 2011 brochure With over 200 pages, our 2011 brochure is now available in print, to download and even in iPad form. If you’d like to request a printed copy of our brochure, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address details stating ‘2011 brochure’ in the subject line or telephone 0844 704 1735
Learn Something New
February Half Term
Holiday Home Investments
Also: P21. Writing competition winner P34. Spring wines
P35. Refer a friend Back Cover Win a luxury holiday
Front Cover - A secluded cove near Mevagissey, Cornwall - Stay nearby at Chorister’s Cottage in Mevagissey - www.bluechipholidays.com/chori
News South West Shines with top holiday destinations Cornwall and Devon have been crowned the top two counties to visit at the British Travel Awards in the category ‘Best UK Holiday County or Region’. Cornwall came out top for the second year running, and for the third time in five years, confirming the county as the favourite of tourists travelling in the UK. Its next door neighbour Devon took second spot proving that the South West remains by far the most popular area of the UK to visit on holiday. The top spot is the latest in a long line of accolades for Cornwall, which also picked up Coast magazine’s award for the country’s most scenic county in 2010 and ‘Favourite UK Country Escape’ in the Sunday Times Travel magazine’s Reader Awards 2010. Cornwall also boasts the British Travel Award’s Best Seaside Town in St. Ives, which was also Best Family Holiday Destination at the Coast Awards 2010.
3 Days Leave = 11 days off work Following the announcement of an additional Bank Holiday on Friday 29 April 2011 to celebrate the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, holiday-makers only need to take three days of annual leave taken on Tuesday 26, Wednesday 27 and Thursday 28 April to get 11 days out of the office. As Easter weekend falls late next year (Good Friday is 22 April and Easter Monday is 25 April) and the first May Bank Holiday is on Monday 2 May, this week is sure to be in high demand – both for bookings and for annual leave requests, so be sure to get yours in early!
Holiday Memories Writing Competition Winner This year our writing competition has seen dozens of entries flood in each month telling tales of intriguing and arresting moments from holidays, capturing the essence of amazing days out, unmissable events and hidden locations that our guests have discovered on holiday with us. After much debate we are pleased to announce that the overall winner of this year’s competition is Georgina
Snook, who discovered that a day out in Brixham kept her entire family well and truly hooked. You can find her article on page xx. For details of next year’s competition visit www.bluechipholidays.com/ writingcompetition for entry details and guidelines. Happy writing.
Turning Green into Gold Blue Chip Holidays are delighted to announce we have been awarded the coveted Gold Award by the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS), becoming one of only 530 businesses nationally to have achieved this prestigious sustainable certification. Every element of the business was judged ranging from our management and marketing through to social involvement, water and energy use, as well as our team’s use of public transport.
Commenting on the award Alan Taylor, Managing Director of Blue Chip Holidays, said: “We’re exceptionally proud of this significant achievement. However this is not the end but the beginning of our journey to create greener holidays here in the UK. Over the next twelve months we will build on our green credentials, expanding our highly commended green blog and increasing the amount of information available to our customers about sustainable holidaying.”
Jon Pressling and Alan Taylor
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Learn something new
Adrenaline Adventures Rob Barber, editor of ThreeSixty Bodyboarding Magazine, writer for Carve Surfing Magazine and British Bodyboarding Champion investigates the best way to get the most out of the South West coast through surfing, bodyboarding, coasteering and kite surfing.
amily trips to the seaside have never been so exciting. Leaping off cliffs, attempting to ride your first tube or launch your first barrel roll; there’s a fusion of adrenaline mixed activities out there that can change your life forever. A life on the ocean waves has long been seen as the exclusive domain of those young, blonde haired, tan skinned wave riders that live on or near the coast. Surely the amount of time and commitment required to get the most out of surfing, bodyboarding, coasteering, kite surfing and other ocean pursuits is only an option for those living on the coast full time? Wrong. The lifestyle is open to anyone, regardless of how rich you are in time, youth or wealth - it’s all about learning the right way, from the experts. Many times, I‘ve had trouble convincing folk that from Mumbles to Bournemouth, taking in the south west peninsula is one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the world and offers a myriad of exciting activity options. With bays, inlets, towering cliffs, quaint fishing ports and beautiful beaches the opportunities to enjoy the salty activities of our wild fringe are many and varied. There is something for all ages, budgets and tastes. Learning something new in an environment that stimulates the senses, exercises the body and mind, while cleansing the soul is addictive. So... be warned!
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Learn something new
Surfing & Bodyboarding T
he heart of UK surfing is Newquay in Cornwall. I wouldn’t be the first journalist-type to dub the place ‘Surf City’ but that’s exactly what it is. When Aussie lifeguards Bob Head, Ian Tiley, John Campbell and Warren Mitchell rolled in to Newquay in April 1962 with glass-fibre performance surfboards and paddled out at Great Western beach, they unwittingly changed the face of the town forever. There are now over 40 surf shops in Newquay and more than 12 surf schools. Surfing has exploded in to the mainstream over the last 5 years. Take a gentle paddle from one end of the Fistral beach to the other and you’ll discover surfers and bodyboarders from age 8 to mid 60-somethings. Learning is fun, safe and will save you hours of trying to self-teach while battling the elements. Kids pick up the sport really quickly and soon get hooked! Newbies of all ages can expect to stand after their first two hour lesson through top quality coaching. Always look for a surf school that is British Surfing Association approved, so that you can be assured that coaches are qualified lifeguards and surf instructors. The Rip Curl English Surfing Federation (ESF) Surf School in Newquay is the only school in the area that has qualified for the ‘Centre of Excellence’ award by the sports governing body. The ESF School offers daily lessons for all ages and abilities. Lessons include all equipment, changing facilities, instruction and insurance and are £30 per person.
Fast Track Surfing Weekends The best way to get to grips with the sport is to take a weekend course. These focus on closer quarters coaching, include some classroom work and are tailored to a surfer’s ability - from total novice to intermediate. They are perfect for family groups as everyone learns together with closer tuition. They maximise the fun with a more personal service. The Fast-Track coaching weekends that the ESF school offer are aimed at those that want to learn everything about the basics of the sport in a weekend. Participants can go from a total novice to the stage where they can buy their own board and go surfing alone (at a lifeguarded beach of course) after two days of personalised coaching. Courses are £119 per person. Learning from the best Those that have surfed before but would like to improve further should attend the Russell Winter Coaching Weekends in Newquay. These weekends are coached by Europe’s most successful surfer and help surfers that can surf already (but perhaps have been away from the sport for some time and are feeling rusty). They are perfect for kids or adults who surf already but want to move their riding on to the next level. A weekend course is £149.
Bodyboarding Bodyboarding is a sport that offers much quicker rewards than surfing but at the top end of riding is just as difficult to master. The boards are smaller, lighter and made of foam so it is also much safer and easier for kids to negotiate them through the waves. The main attraction with bodyboarding over surfing is that within one two hour session you can learn how to catch unbroken waves. You’ll quickly find yourself ‘out back’ with the experienced surfers. The low centre of gravity when riding a bodyboard means you are close to the rushing water as you ride - offering a real feeling of speed on the senses. The only bodyboarding school in the UK is my school in Newquay - Rob Barber’s Bodyboarding School. We offer coaching for all ages and abilities. Our bodyboard coaching weekends offer a great opportunity to pick up the sport, meet like minded bodyboarders and receive advice from two national champions. For further information check out: www.bluechipholidays.com/learn
For further information check out: www.bluechipholidays.com/learn
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Learn something new
oasteering is fast becoming the most popular adrenaline pursuit in the UK. A brief description of what it includes is a lot of leaping off cliff edges in to plunge pools, swimming through caves, riding natural rapids, traversing the cliff edge, enjoying the marine life, whirlpools and other coastal surprises. Each coasteer pupil is kitted out with a wetsuit, helmet and buoyancy aid and receive a detailed safety talk and technique instruction. Coasteering is really popular with kids of all ages - many 40 plus! Coasteer pupils can be heard shrieking with adrenaline-fueled glee as they leap off the biggest of jumps or wash through the natural coastal roller coasters. Coastline Coasteering in Newquay use 3 routes and all participants can enjoy the parts of the course that they want to take part in, it’s a no pressure - maximum fun activity. The Gazzle - based on the Cribbar headland in Newquay, this route offers fantastic jumps, rapids, half submerged caves and plenty of sea life.
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The Eco Coasteer - takes in Newquay’s famous Fistral beach and its incredible coast, the destroyed harbour and natural plunge pool. This mellow coasteer and rock pool safari shows an educational side of the coast that you can only enjoy from the water. The Island Coasteer - this route on the edge of Newquay includes blow holes, and an Iron Age settlement. Add to this some breathtaking jumps in to an area of coast where you will see no one but the odd adventurous fisherman. A coasteering session will cost around £40 and should include all equipment. Make sure that the centre is properly insured and has up to date risk assessments etc (ask when you book). For further info check out: www.bluechipholidays.com/learn
Learn something new
About the writer: Rob Barber, 34, has lived in Newquay all of his life. As well as a prolific writing career, Rob is the director of The Rip Curl ESF Surf School, Coastline Coasteering and Rob Barberâ€™s Bodyboarding School. He is also the current senior British Bodyboarding Champion.
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Learn something new
Kite Surfing O
ur coast isn’t only under constant attack from waves, there is also fantastic coastal winds that are perfect for Kite Surfing. A course is essential as the amount of equipment and the techniques involved to harness the winds power need to be shown by an expert. Wave surfing and jumping at great speeds should be displayed by experts. It’s the perfect sport to get stuck in to when the wind is too strong and on shore to surf or bodyboard. Then it’s time to reach for the kite surfing kit! For further information check out: www.bluechipholidays.com/learn
Where to stay
Get Stoked T
oday, an estimated 250,000 people in Britain go surfing every year and many thousands more are also enjoying the coast through bodyboarding, kitesurfing and coasteering. Being “stoked”, the phenomenon of being deliriously happy after a spell in the water, is pretty widespread. It takes someone pretty stony-hearted not to smile after catching a wave. The mood-enhancing properties of surfing are so established that it is now being trailed as a way to combat depression. It keeps you fit, educates
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you about our amazing coastal environment and makes you feel good. Get to the coast and try something new - it could change your life forever. To get 15% off a lesson at Rob Barber’s Bodyboarding School and the Rip Curl ESF Surf School, simply book a break with Blue Chip Holidays before 30 April 2011. Email our booking team with your booking reference, quoting ‘ESF Discount’ and we’ll send you a special discount voucher. Happy surfing!
For a selection of over 170 self-catering properties in Newquay: www.bluechipholidays.com/newquay Apartments in Aqua Blue, Rocklands, Zinc, Bredon Court, Pearl and Horizons are centrally located for watersports. For North Devon properties: www.bluechipholidays.com/saunton-braunton Ocean Point sits directly above the surf school. For Wales properties: www.bluechipholidays.com/mumbles For Bournemouth: www.bluechipholidays.com/sdene The apartments at Studland Dene are of an amazingly high standard sometimes it’s hard to tear yourself away from the waves, but not here!
A selection of luxury holiday properties with character
Harbour House Torpoint
aximising the views and location was paramount when Harbour House owner, Shaun Huggins recently renovated the property located right on the edge of Torpoint Yacht Harbour. Laid out across two floors, with the four bedrooms on the first floor and the openplan living area downstairs, the living spaces extend outdoors with an extensive decked terrace complete with hot tub. Harbour House has been furnished with the family in mind. With several flat-screen televisions throughout the property, including a super-sized screen in the living area, as well as more than one reception room and a bedroom complete with bunk beds worthy of any ‘pirate’, even the family dog is welcome here. The location certainly is the selling point of this property. Situated in Torpoint, the house benefits from its proximity to the attractions of both Cornwall and Devon, and for those who are interested in sailing, the marina opens onto the yachting playground of Plymouth Sound. “Guests at Harbour House have access to the marina facilities and we wanted
them to be able to make the most of the location when staying here”, says Mr Huggins. “We’ve provided kayaks and a complimentary boat as well, but anyone with their own boat can use the boat storage or deepwater swinging mooring.” The sailing theme is evident throughout the property with contemporary artworks mixed with modern furnishings, colour schemes to reflect light and even a shipswheel incorporated into the breakfast bar. The extra touches continue with a modern wet room and a sauna in a ‘lobby’ area off the decked patio and there is even an outdoor shower to ensure that the outdoors sand stays outside. But it’s not all sailing around here. Recently made famous for the filming of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, Torpoint boasts Antony House, a National Trust property with extensive grounds and mazes. The Eden Project is also within a half hour’s drive and the shopping of Plymouth is just a ferry ride away. All in all, Harbour House has been designed to cater for a range of guests.
Harbour House can be rented through Blue Chip Holidays from £669 per week and sleeps up to eight guests in four bedrooms. For more information visit www.bluechipholidays.com/hh
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Whitsand Bay, Cornwall
ramatic, craggy and arrestingly beautiful sea views are the signature of 3 and 4 Fish Cellars, twin properties owned by Vivien Farquharson. Each has been hewn into the rock and clad in the stone of a former 400 year old fish cellars, bringing immense character to these stunning contemporary architectural statements. Inside, these light and airy eco-friendly properties feature geothermal heating and state of the art insulation, making for a snug and cosy place to stay whatever the weather. There’s plenty of room to relax in and there’s even a den and games room for the children to spend many happy hours in living out imaginary adventures following a day on the beach. This truly is a wonderful place to live by the sea and drink in the atmosphere of coastal life. “When we were looking for somewhere to buy we decided that we had to have a house with views that constantly fill you with wonder, and that’s precisely what the dramatic surroundings and vista from the living area and balcony deliver”, says Vivien.
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These twin houses have large living rooms with floor to ceiling windows that cast light in from the seascape, and impressive beams that form the structure of the building. The state of the art solid wood kitchen is also a great feature - perfect for any real foodie - while the two generous en suite bedrooms provide a level of comfort that everyone will look forward to at the end of another adventure filled day. Outside, the Fish Cellars are just as spectacular, landscaped with stone pathways, decking and pebble stone beds that echo the two sand and shingle beaches that lie below. Finnygook Beach, which is popular with experienced surfers, is close by as is Whitsand Bay. There are plenty of rock pools to explore and the South West Coast Path is just 50 metres away. And if that’s not enough, the first tee of the local golf course is no more than 300 metres away. Together, this makes 3 and 4 Fish Cellars an ideal location for a coastal holiday, especially for large families who can be book both properties together.
3 and 4 Fish Cellars can be booked through Blue Chip Holidays from £539 per week; each sleeps up to six guests in two bedrooms with additional sleeping in bunk beds. For more information visit www.bluechipholidays.com/fish
Hesketh Crescent, Torquay
aking the most of the elegance and position of their ground floor Regency apartment lay at the heart of the design choices made by Tom and Sarah Hammett, owners of the sumptuous Ocean View in Torquay. Located within Hesketh Crescent, and just a short walk from Torquay’s Blue Flag Meadfoot Beach, this impressive property harks back to an era of classical 19th Century style. Throughout the little touches have been carefully considered, from the period nest of tables and the large gilt mirror, through to the dining table and chairs, which would not be out of place in a fine country house. Light pours into the large living room through deep inset sash windows that complement the high ceilings and bathe the room in brightness. Large cream sofas seating up to five give the kind of comfort that you hanker after, gently nestling you as you read a book or choose to settle in for a movie on the 32” LCD HD digital TV. This child friendly two bedroom apartment comes with its own cot and high chair, as well as other helpful items including a wide selection of DVD’s, videos, CDs, books and children’s games. Whatever the weather’s doing outside, there’s plenty to do indoors too.
There is also a selection of helpful services available: “Our guests receive a 10% discount at Terrace Bistro and Langtry’s Restaurant when they subscribe to the Health Club, which gives access to a lovely indoor pool, gym & sauna. There’s even access to tennis courts below the apartment that can be booked at an hourly rate”, says Sarah. The apartment itself is situated at the end of the impressive Hesketh Crescent, which has been described as an example of location and architecture at its very best. Based on the Regency ideals of London and Brighton, this striking curved building hugs the lie of the beach below, where many happy hours can be spent enjoying the crystal clear waters of the sea. Of course there’s a great deal more to Torquay than the sea and the best sandcastle building beaches in the UK; Torquay boasts historical sites, waterfront bars and cafes and a great selection of boutique shops. If you’re looking to entertain your children, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice with attractions that include the world in miniature at Babbacombe Model Village, Living Coasts, and prehistoric remains at Kents Cavern.
Ocean View can be rented through Blue Chip Holidays from £419 per week and sleeps up to four guests in two bedrooms. For more information visit www.bluechipholidays.com/hc
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February Half Term Ideas
If you’re pondering how to entertain your kids this February Half Term, look no further: National travel writer Alice Easton has done the work so you don’t have to.
nowdrop-laced hedgerows and the arrival of the season’s first lambs make the Spring Half Term (19 - 27 February) an attractive time to get out and about. Coastal and country walks that encompass the region’s beautiful scenery will provide a welcome breath of fresh air after the excesses of the festive season and the dreary return to work or school. However, with the children in tow and no guarantee of sunshine it makes sense to plan a few excursions to keep everyone entertained if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Fortunately, the South West is packed with exciting attractions that appeal to all ages, from aquariums and museums to heritage sites and steam railways. Here we offer a Half Term guide to the region’s most enticing family-friendly options, including special events. For contact details of all attractions listed here visit www.bluechipholidays.com/halfterm
1. Where the wild things are
4. History & heritage
Plymouth Pavilions, where there is an ice rink and a fun pool with wave machine and flumes, will provide the venue for two ‘Horrible Histories’ shows. Actors and special effects will bring history to life in ‘The Awful Egyptians’ and ‘The Ruthless Romans’ which will run from 17-19 February. For further information and ticket prices, see www.bluechipholidays.com/halfterm
ife-sized dinosaur reconstructions and real skeletons make the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester a hugely popular family attraction, while fun, hands-on features and multi-media displays add to the museum’s appeal. Children will get the chance to build magnetic dinosaur puzzles and learn all about the creatures that dominated the planet for more than 50 million years. The museum is open daily throughout Half Term. Stay nearby in Dorchester in the Telephone Exchange, which sleeps four and is available over Half Term from £219. Alternatively, stay in Weymouth in a charming former brewery cottage which sleeps six. Close to the bustling harbour, The Malthouse can be booked from £499 for the week. See www.bluechipholidays.com/dorset
2. Something fishy? The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is home to more than four thousand creatures from 400 species. Snorkel, the loggerhead turtle, who was found on a Cornish beach in 1990, is one of the most popular residents, as are the aquarium’s sharks. The aquarium is split into six main zones including coral seas, Atlantic reef and weird creatures, where visitors will find an array of fascinating fish and peculiar invertebrates. Stay in 20 Azure, a stylish apartment for four with superb views across Plymouth Hoe and out to sea. Available over Half Term, a week can be booked for £469. See www.bluechipholidays.com/plymouth for more details
Stay in either 19 or 23 Harmony Court. These stylish reverse level townhouses sleeping six are close to Plymouth Hoe and the Barbican and can be booked for £499. See www.bluechipholidays.com/plymouth for more details At Torre Abbey in Torquay, which bills itself as “part-gallery, part-museum, and part-historic house” visitors can step back in time to see what life was like for the medieval “White Canons” in the 12th century when the abbey was founded. There are also picturesque gardens to explore and a permanent art collection. During Half Term there will be special treasure hunts and medieval craft-making sessions. Stay nearby in 7 or 8 Torwood Gables, a former school where a family of six can stay in each apartment from £369 for seven nights over Half Term. For a wider choice of places to stay visit www.bluechipholidays.com/torquay
The National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth
Horrible Histories at Plymouth Pavilions 12
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3. Old MacDonald had a farm
5. Get your skates on
6. Full steam ahead
During Half Term, the maternity wing at The Big Sheep near Bideford in North Devon will be full of resident ewes waiting to give birth. Visitors will be able to watch newborn lambs being fed by their mothers and enjoy entertainment including sheep-shearing shows and brewery demonstrations with real ale tasting. Ewetopia, the attraction’s indoor play area which has a selection of slides, ball ponds and soft-play climbing features will also be open for the school holiday. Money-saving tip: free climbing sessions at The Ultimate High activity centre can be booked on reception at The Big Sheep, which is adjacent to the centre. Places are strictly limited and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
Among attractions at the Eden Project, which is not far from the Cornish town of St Austell, are the wonderfully exotic plants in the rainforest biome which has its own waterfall and a lookout area high amongst the treetops. In contrast to this steamy tropical world is the seasonal ice rink, which will be open throughout the Half Term break for public skate sessions. On selected dates during Half Term there will also be special ice-play sessions for children and toddlers.
The West Somerset Railway operates vintage steam trains along a scenic 20 mile stretch of track from Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton to the seaside town of Minehead. The line runs through picturesque countryside stopping at historic stations and offering views of the Quantock Hills. Steam services run daily throughout the Half Term week, except on Monday 21 February and Friday 25 February.
Stay nearby on the coast at Westward Ho! from £439 in 16 Horizon View, a beautiful apartment for four with panoramic sea views across the beach and out to the Atlantic. Alternatively, why not try Ocean Point where between four and six guests can stay in stunning apartments overlooking Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows. Seven nights are available from £529. Also, try The Decks, a spacious family friendly 4 bedroom house with large enclosed gardens that sleeps ten. Seven nights are available from £729. For more self-catering properties, see www.bluechipholidays.com/saunton-braunton www.bluechipholidays.com/westward-ho
Stay nearby in Charlestown in the charming Driftwood Cottage which sleeps six. Seven nights can be booked over the Half Term for £339. Alternatively, try Pelican Cottage with its own enclosed garden. This lovely cottage sleeps four and can be booked from 19 February for £369. See www.bluechipholidays.com/st-austell-eden
Ice skating at the Eden Project, Cornwall
Newborns at The Big Sheep, Bideford
Stay just a short drive from Bishops Lydeard Station in an eco-friendly lodge at Mill Meadow. Woodpecker Lodge sleeps six and can be booked over Half Term from just £439, as can House Martins, a luxury timber clad house that sleeps eight. See www. bluechipholidays.com/taunton
A steam train on the West Somerset Railway
Lantern parades at the Eden Project, Cornwall
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SOUTH WEST AWARD WINNERS A cut above the rest In our first article, Katy de Looze of Blue Chip Holidays visits Dartington Crystal near Great Torrington, North Devon, to find out why the UKâ€™s only remaining major Crystal & Glass manufacturer continues to cut it as one of Devonâ€™s most popular tourist destinations.
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Photography Dartington Crystal
arrived at award-winning Dartington Crystal on a very wet grey Friday afternoon and was relieved to soon be getting inside and out of the cold. As I walked round the outside of the building from the car park heading towards the entrance I had already spotted through the large windows a wide range of gifts that friends and family would love. First stop was the Visitor centre where plates, vases, Wine Glasses, tumblers and much more from throughout the years were standing to attention sparkling at me. As I walked over to take a closer look I was really impressed with the clever way in which they were displayed. From the vast collection of products and designer information, a timeline had been created to explain to onlookers how Dartington Crystal began. Along with the timeline was a large cinema screen where I could spend five minutes to sit down and take in all the history. The story took me back to the early 1920s where the Dartington Trust began and then to the 1960s where Scandinavian Glass blowers were brought in to teach the locals the art. After watching the craftsmen at work on the video I was itching to get into the working factory that I had heard so much about. Before I could get there I was transfixed watching the engraver at work producing amazing and intricate art. I was told customers can even supply the engraver with a photo which he would use as the inspiration to create artwork on the glass.
I was very lucky to have a guide walk me through all the sights and I really got a feeling of how hard everyone has worked to keep the factory experience running. Thankfully it is still going strong and as I was taken through it, it was like going back in time, viewing a living museum where you can walk all the way around and watch the skilled team at work. Visitors to the factory can have a go at glass blowing themselves which, believe me, is a lot harder than it looks! You also have the option to paint your own glass and make your own jewellery and you can take it home with you. I also got to witness a young family each taking turns to have their hands and feet cast in glass that they could keep as a souvenir. After walking around the whole of the factory (not forgetting all the shopping I did for gifts to take home), I ended up in the on-site Pavilion Café where I was welcomed with freshly prepared local West Country produce. When I arrived at Dartington Crystal I never imagined just how many fun activities would be taking place within its walls. What a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Where to stay Stay a short drive away at Glebe House Cottages (close to Hosworthy) where a week for four can be booked from £339 per week, while a week for up to six costs from £389. Exposed beams and stonework are a feature in each of the cottages, which come with access to a heated outdoor swimming pool and an all-weather tennis court. Alternatively, stay at The Ruby, where a selection of luxury lodges can be booked for four from £369 per week, and from £389 for six per week. Lodges come with sun decks and a range of individual features including outdoor hot tubs, double Jacuzzi baths and double power showers complete with massage jets and a CD players. See www.bluechipholidays.com/ holsworthy for further information. Also consider Chantry Cottage in Bideford, which sleeps five and can be booked for a week from £279.
Dartington Crystal is open all year round (please call for Bank Holiday opening times). See www.dartingtoncrystal.co.uk for more details or call 01805 626242
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Sheep, Camel and Wine A
little over twenty years ago, a dramatic decision was made that would change the fortune of former RAP pilot and Cornish sheep farmer Bob Lindo. Having left the Royal Air Force Bob and his wife Annie bought their dream farm on the steep slopes of the Camel Valley farm near Bodmin, and for the next seven years they struggled to make ends meet. The work was hard and year after year the grass turned brown, baked by the Cornish sun. Frustrated by the poor growing conditions Bob searched for an alternative and was struck by the thought that perhaps these sun drenched slopes would suit vines. Taking a gamble Bob and his wife Annie planted their first eight thousand vines in 1989. In 1992 they picked their first harvest and they’ve never looked back. Today the vineyard has become an international success winning award after award including the 2010 International Wine Challenge where Camel Valley took best sparkling Rose in the world, and that includes Champagne! The beauty of this wonderful vineyard is that it’s a proper family enterprise. Everyone mucks in when it comes to harvesting and tending the vines. Bob’s wife Annie takes great pride in
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pruning each of the vines personally, cutting back to two stems from which next year’s grapes will grow. At 100 vines a day, it takes her three months to complete this task alone, and it shows the passion and attention to detail that echoes throughout the business.
The beauty of this wonderful vineyard is that it’s a proper family enterprise
Bob’s son Sam nurtures the vines from the start of the season to the end and as head wine maker is largely responsible for the vineyard’s recent runaway success. He’s a font of knowledge and you can join him for a personally guided tour on Wednesday’s between April and September. You can accompany Bob, who remains hands on, on a Grand Tour and Tasting experience from April through to the end of October. Just sure to book well in advance; the tours are in great demand. Such is the popularity of the Lindo’s wines that fifty per cent of all they produce is bought directly from the Vineyard shop. I wonder if that has anything to do with the 10 per cent discount when you buy 12 bottles?
A further forty per cent of all they produce is sold to locally to trade and restaurants, a fact that the Lindo’s are very proud of. They are passionate about the fact that their wines should play their part in enticing visitor to Cornwall to experience the county’s rich culinary offerings and produce. You’ve got to applaud them for that. Having won so many awards, I hardly need say how astounding their Brut and Rose’s are. And then there are the Bacchus white wines; fresh, bright and fruity with an amazing elderflower nose – yum! Take it more me, you’ll find it impossible to leave without a case. Where else can you buy the World’s finest sparkling Rose for under £25 a bottle? This Summer, to celebrate 20 years of Seyval production, Camel Valley will be producing ‘Annie Seyval’, a celebratory Sparkling wine made purely from the vines tended by Annie Lindo. It’s due to be a cracker! Visit www.camelvalley.com for more information. For places to stay nearby visit www.bluechipholidays.com/padstow
Photography Camel Valley
Ewan Davy from Blue Chip Holidays visits Camel Valley Vineyards, bronze winner of the Cornwall Tourism Awards ‘Small Attraction of the Year’.
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In search of the Exmoor Beast Rossi Mirehsan of Blue Chip Holidays recently went in search of the Exmoor Beast and other wild things on her visit to Exmoor Zoo.
Photography Exmoor Zoo
hen I think about taking a country holiday I imagine breathtaking scenery, new outdoor adventures and fun family activities. Bearing this in mind it’s easy to see why Exmoor Zoo has won this year’s Visit Devon Silver Tourism Award as the attraction does not disappoint! As a family day out it will leave both children and adults full of excitement. Approaching the zoo through the dramatic open spaces of Exmoor’s uniquely charismatic landscape, I got the impression that this attraction was not going to be conventional in its setting. Living up to its surroundings the zoo is a far cry from your traditional wildlife park or city zoo and as a visitor you soon find yourself immersed in a journey that will take you from intriguing marsupials to the main attraction itself….the infamous Exmoor beast! Easy to follow walking trails are set amongst impressive jungle foliage to give the zoo an exciting Jurassic feel, adding to the sense of exploration as you effortlessly encounter one animal after another. A thriving colony of animals, ranging from penguins to majestic storks, inhabit the zoo’s central spring lake and with over 200 exotic and rare animals and birds, there are new discoveries around every twist and turn. What I found truly remarkable though is how this zoo has fitted into the North Devon countryside and that as you reach the outer edges it is hard to see where the zoo finishes and Exmoor’s rugged landscapes begin. Animal enclosures seem to
The “Exmoor Beast”
disperse into the beautiful north Devon backdrops - making each animal encounter even more captivating. Plus, visitors can get up close and personal with an impressive choice of interactive activities that run throughout both the winter and summer months. Here you can really get stuck in and take part in sessions to touch a snake, hold a spider, feed a wallaby and learn about the animals during talks and feeding times. Beware if you visit though, Exmoor Zoo is now home to the notorious Exmoor Beast - an infamous big cat rumored to inhabit the remote areas of Exmoor! There is a real sense of excitement as children rush to the viewing tower to see the ‘beast’ and I couldn’t help but get absorbed in the facts behind the folklore as I learnt all about the legend. It’s not hard to see why this family run zoo has gone from strength to strength over recent years as Exmoor Zoo offers a unique day out that the whole family will be talking about long after the journey home. For more information visit: www.exmoorzoo.co.uk Stay nearby at Cranford in Bratton Fleming, which sleeps seven. This smart property has a large living room as well as a separate sitting and games room; perfect for the kids. It has its own enclosed garden, a large sun deck and three bedrooms. Seven nights can be booked from just £319. For places to stay nearby visit www.bluechipholidays.com/exmoor
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Don’t Miss... Over the coming months you can visit the Gallery to see Picture Post, a celebration of illustrated letters, envelopes and correspondence by 19th and 20th Century artists working in the local area – runs until 15 January. From 22 January until 26 March ‘The Marvellous Everyday’ will see a collection of quirky images on display from the dawn of photography through to the mid 20th Century. From 2 April through to 4 June you can enjoy The Talented Garstins, an exhibition featuring the work of Irishman Norman Garstin as well as Alethea, dubbed by Patrick Heron as ‘England’s greatest Impressionist painter’.
Shining an artistic light on West Cornwall Ewan Davy discovers the multi-award winning formula behind Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance. here’s something incredibly special about a visit to an art gallery. The pieces of work somehow come to life in a way that simply doesn’t happen on posters, cards or on the internet. So it was with great enthusiasm that I set off to visit Penlee House Gallery & Museum in Penzance, this year’s Small Visitor Attraction Gold award winner at the Cornwall Tourism Awards and the Silver winner at the South West Tourism Awards. I’ve heard so much about the Newlyn School of Art and artists such as Stanhope and Elizabeth Forbes, Walter Langley, Harold Harvey and Laura Knight. This crowd were among a group of influential artists who captured the vibrancy of the light and the rich social fabric of the people found in West Cornwall between 1880 and 1940. On my visit the bubbly and incredibly enthusiastic Alison Bevan, Director of the Gallery, took me on a tour of this truly inspiring venue. She explained how the Gallery balances art and archaeological exhibits with the social history of the area to create an exhibition that gives context to the pieces on display.
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This heady mix means that there’s something for everyone, young or old. Here you will find exhibits on many items of local interest including the town’s crest, which happens to be the decapitated head of St John the Baptist. This was the local’s tongue in cheek interpretation of Penzance, which means Holy Head. You can also find out why the promiscuous Pilchard gave away the identity of art painted in the area. In total the Gallery has over 400 pieces of art but it also benefits from the generosity of many independent owners who allow their pieces to be exhibited in the Gallery, making this the world’s most complete collection of the Newlyn School of Art. In the permanent collection you can enjoy the pure genius of Frank Bramleys’s square brush technique, which he used in the astonishing Eyes and No Eyes to maximise light as it travelled through the atmosphere. You will also find yourself captured by the emotion of Walter Langley’s Departure of the Fleet for the North, and by the moodiness of Norman Garstin’s ‘The Rain it Raineth’. Many of
the guides here have family members featured in the paintings, and can tell you the stories that lie behind the pictures. If you’re anything like me, you’ll come away from this experience touched by its impact, inspired by the creativity of the artists and heartened by the freshly baked cakes on site; the Polento Lemon Cake in itself is well worth a return visit. Just ask the locals, they all seem to stop there for a bite to eat. For more information visit www. penleehouse.org.uk Stay nearby at Lesceave Penthouse, an impressive Art Deco, five bedroom penthouse apartment, situated above Praa Sands in Cornwall. The property sleeps ten, has two kitchens, a large living area and a generous dining room for parties. Outside, the rooftop patio has unrivalled panoramic views from Lizard Point to Lands End. A week at Lesceave can be booked from £939 per week. For a selection of other properties in the area, visit www.bluechipholidays.com/penzance
Photography Penlee House
Avast! Get hooked in Brixham 2010 Blue Chip Holidays Writing Competition winner, Georgina Snook, visits ‘Pirate Thursday’ in Brixham, Devon
RGGGHH Pirate Thursday in Brixham! What to expect? We had seen the posters all week advertising this grand event; every Thursday from the end of July through August, Brixham streets are besieged by pirates. Our apartment, The Fisherman’s Loft, was located directly above the harbour so we had an enviable viewpoint of the day’s proceedings. From early in the morning anticipation filled the air. As usual the harbour slowly came to life; shops began to open and the cafes below put out their tables for the day’s hungry diners. However, today stallholders appeared, erecting marquees to display their wares. Face painters, balloon modellers, crafts, stocks, puppeteers and storytellers completed the colourful scene that enchanted us.
The harbour was alive with music, sea shanties were sung and belly dancers shimmered
We ventured out into the August sun. Our daughter cried out, “Is that Captain Black over there?” Sure enough Captain Black stood casually leaning against the wall. Shop fronts were festooned with bunting and flags. The fun around the bustling harbour was infectious as the whole town took part with enthusiasm and gusto. The streets were full, awash with pirates. Young and old were all dressed for a day of buccaneering; bandanas, swords and eye patches were the accessories of the day. Even a dog was dressed as Captain Hook!
The Golden Hind stood majestically in the harbour while cries of ‘shiver me timbers’ could be heard from passing pirates. The harbour was alive with music, sea shanties were sung and belly dancers shimmered. Children rushed around eagerly enjoying the day’s entertainment. They queued patiently, waiting to have their faces painted or hair braided. The laughter that came from the stocks as a dastardly pirate got soaked by wet sponges was hilarious. During the afternoon there was even a competition to see who could make the loudest argggh and who had the best costume. This was a day of escapism, a day to enjoy the childlike fun. The steeped rows of terraced cottages that surrounded the harbour were a perfect backdrop to the madness and mayhem occurring below. It was strange to think that tomorrow there would not be a pirate in sight, we felt like we had spent the day on a film set. As we wandered back to our apartment we stopped at the much visited, during our holiday, mouth watering ice cream parlour, where every flavour imaginable can be found. For a day out Brixham is hard to beat, whatever your age there is some thing for everyone. You will always enjoy yourself and find things to do. But for a perfectly magical, fun day Pirate Thursday is a day you will remember for a very long time. Pirate Thursdays take place throughout the holiday season in Brixham.
For your chance to win the 2011 holiday memories writing competition simply send a tale of your favourite holiday memories to email@example.com Each month one worthy author will win a £50 Marks & Spencer voucher. In December we will review the best twelve articles and one lucky winner will be chosen to win the annual prize, a £500 voucher towards a holiday with Blue Chip Holidays. Visit www.bluechipholidays.com/ writingcompetition for more details.
Join the Pirate Party Why not join the Brixham Buccaneers this year to help break the World Record for the most pirates in one gathering? All you need is an eye patch, a sword, white t-shirt, and rolled-up trousers. The World record attempt takes place over the weekend of the Brixham Pirate & Shanty Festival, which runs from 30 April to 2 May. This year the aim is to create a ‘Mile of Pirates’. Over the weekend there will be reenactments, a skirmish on the Golden Hind, a Pirate Fun Day, as well as a sea shanty and folk music competition at various venues around the town. Grrr-eat for mums, dads, Grrr-arrghndparents and Gra-arrgh-ndchildren. More information on the festival can be found on our website at www.bluechipholidays.com/events
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From the cultural and the culinary, to the downright wacky, national travel writer Alice Easton looks in to what’s on to keep you busy this Easter and May Bank Holiday.
APRIL 23 – 25 April
29 April – 2 May
Music, dance and all that jazz The seaside town of Budleigh Salterton, which is situated within the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will this year host a jazz festival with a toetapping line-up of world-class musicians including the singer Elaine Delmar and saxophonist Ken Peplowski. Other highlights will include a concert by the Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Jazz & Blues In Plymouth meanwhile, in addition to ticketed events there will be a weekend of free musical performances in the city’s historic quayside quarter at the Barbican International Jazz & Blues Festival.
Stay nearby at Weston Bay near Sidmouth. Rose, Crocus, Daffodil and Tulip are each beautifully finished properties, just a short drive away from the Jurassic Coast. All are available over the Easter break and can be booked from £609 for four guests or from £789 for six guests. Visit www.bluechipholidays.com/sidmouth for more information.
Stay in 59 The Mills Bakery, a beautifully restored apartment in Royal William Yard, where six can stay the week of 23 April from £1,139. Alternatively try 28 Century Quay, a chic apartment for four with views over the harbour. Seven nights from 23 April costs £569. Ten nights from 22 April costs £1,616. For a selection of other properties visit www.bluechipholidays.com/rwy
MAY 1 May Worm Charming The International Festival of Worm Charming, which is held in the pretty village of Blackawton in South Devon each year is one of the more unusual bank holiday highlights. Competitors will attempt to fool earthworms out of the ground by creating vibrations which approximate the sound of rainfall, or enticing them out with homemade concoctions - which they will first have to sample in order to prove they are not harmful to the little wrigglers. Fancy dress is encouraged and there will be family-friendly entertainment.
Jazz Festival Budleigh Salterton, Devon
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Stay nearby in sumptuous seaside surroundings at ‘At The Beach’ in Torcross, where a selection of apartments are available over Easter. These range in price from £489 for four guests staying seven nights from 23 April, through to £839 for seven guests staying a week. For more information visit www.bluechipholidays.com/southhams
2 May Spring into Summer Traditional May Day celebrations in Padstow draw huge crowds to this scenic Cornish fishing port. The origins of ’Obby ’Oss day’ are uncertain, but it is said to have pre-Christian roots, possibly relating to fertility rites or the Celtic festival of Beltane. On the day, the two ’obby ’osses (hobby horses) and teams of dancers dressed in white and adorned with bluebells and other spring flowers will make their way around the town in procession. There will also be folk singing and maypole dancing. Lovely self-catering properties nearby include two Bay Retreats Villas on the outskirts of Padstow. Both sleep five and are available from 23 April from £666. For something a little more traditional try Tara Cottage, which has its own enclosed garden, is situated in the heart of the quaint village of St. Issey nearby and is available for six over the Easter holidays from £609. For a selection of other properties visit www.bluechipholidays.com/padstow
’Obby ’Oss day’ - Padstow, Cornwall
SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND
7 May Also to celebrate the arrival of Spring, the market town of Helston in Cornwall will be bedecked with flowers and greenery in preparation for Flora Day, an ancient festival of dance. Throughout the day, the bunting-clad streets will fill with visitors and there will be stalls selling local food and Cornish crafts. Why not make St. Ives your base for this event. Less than half an hour from Helston are a selection of charming properties that include 1, 2 and 3 Oceanis available during the week of 23 April from £569. For a large group, try the stunning Whitsunday House, which has fantastic views across Carbis Bay and out to sea. Possessing one of the best views in Cornwall, this house sleeps eight and can be booked for seven nights over Easter from £1,569. For a selection of properties visit www.bluechipholidays.com/stives
Sheep racing - The Big Sheep, Bideford, Devon
Easter Weekend The South West has a great number of historic houses, castles and fortresses to visit. During the Easter weekend, many are planning special family entertainment and activities for children. Dunster Castle, near Minehead in Somerset, and Dartmouth Castle, which stands guard to the entrance of the Dart estuary in South Devon, will be among historic properties putting on Easter trails and entertainment. At The Big Sheep in North Devon there will be family-friendly entertainment including the rather wacky sheep races (complete with knitted jockeys) and duck trials - where border collies round up perplexed ducks. There are also plenty of indoor activities should the weather turn bad. During the Easter weekend there will be chocolate egg hunts, face painting and craft sessions.
May Bank Holiday Monkey World, an ape rescue centre set within 65 acres of Dorset woodland near Wareham is a sanctuary for primates from across the globe. It is home to more than 230 primates including chimpanzees, gibbons and magnificent orangutans. From Good Friday to Easter Monday, the centre will be giving away free chocolate eggs to the first 100 children to enter the park each day. During the early May Bank Holiday weekend, every child who brings a banana for the primates will receive a Monkey World badge. Admission to Monkey World cost £10.75 for adults, £7.50 for children aged three to 15 years old. A family ticket costs £33. Stay in style nearby at Studland Dene in Bournemouth where a selection of contemporary apartments are available for seven nights from £699 for four, from £909 for six, and from £969 for eight. These apartments are spacious, sumptuous, luxurious and within yards of the beach. Also availability for from 22 April - 2 May See www.bluechipholidays.com/dorset for more properties.
Flora Day - Helston, Cornwall
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Dorset Revisited Ewan Davy returned to his roots for a surprising and eventful wander down memory lane in Dorset.
t must be well over fifteen years since I lived in the beautiful and historic county of Dorset. Despite spending the bulk of my childhood there with occasional trips to Weymouth and Chesil Beach, I’d never been to the Island of Portland, so when the opportunity arose to stay there, I leapt at it. At this time of year, it tends to get dark quite early, so by the time I crossed from Weymouth to Portland, the Island was shrouded in darkness. Despite this, there was no doubting where I was due to stay for the weekend as the iconic Ocean Views development stands proud, overlooking the Portland marina and what will be the finish line of the races in the Olympic sailing regatta in 2012. At the end of any journey, especially at night, it’s always nice to arrive to the warmth and cosiness of a well laid out apartment, and mine was no exception. Off the main corridor were two lovely double rooms; one with en-suite, and one with a bathroom next door. Tempting though it was to simply crash for the night, I couldn’t resist sitting in the living area with a gin and tonic, gazing out across the water to Weymouth on the far side. Well watered and fed, I turned in for the night.
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Chesil Beach, Weymouth
Waking up to Grandstand Views There’s something very special about waking up to the sound of seagulls in the morning; much better than the intrusive daily alarm at 6.15am. It’s a gentle reminder that you are actually on holiday, on the coast, and you don’t have to get up for anything, or anyone; everything happens in your own time. Pulling back the curtains, I realised that the draw of Portland was just too much to ignore. A clear blue sky welcomed me and the view below was stunning. At night you see the lights of cars cross from the mainland, but nothing prepares you for vista that opens before you in the morning, especially from the 5th floor. To the left lies Chesil Beach, in front the marina and the National Sailing Academy, and to the right is the expanse of water over which the battle for gold at the Olympics will be won or lost. Next door lies a development which, over the next couple of years, will be transformed into what is already hotly tipped to be the main accommodation for the Olympic athletes in 2012. Take my advice, if you are a fan of sailing, and you want to be at the heart of the Olympic event, there can be no better place to stay. Of course, having such a great vantage point has its own advantages. For a start you can plan out all the things that you can do locally on foot, like an amble down to the marina, a trot to Chesil Beach, or a saunter to Portland Castle, a fortress that was built by Henry VIII to defend Weymouth from attacks by the French and Spanish.
Chesil Beach First on my agenda was a walk along Chesil Beach, which connects the Island to the mainland. Now, when I were a lad, they taught me about long shore drift, and there can be no better place in the world to see this in action. From the South of the Beach, the waves cascade along the coast, dragging and drawing thousands of tons of pebbles back and forth in a mesmeric and hypnotic fashion. The haunting sound of pebble being drawn over pebble is a wonderful thing so too is the satisfying crunch under foot as you walk along the beach. Fortunately for me, and for the local fishermen, the weather that Saturday was
as calm as it was sunny, which meant that two-men skiffs were making their way down the beach out to sea in their droves. The scars that the hulls carve into the pebbles are quite something to see. Next, I indulged in a spot of rock-pooling, clambering over the enormous boulders that litter the very Southern tip of the beach. In between are little pools with sea anemones, small fish, crabs all manner of seaweed. It took me back to many happy childhood days spent trawling the bottoms of these pools.
The Isle of Portland I’d always imagined that Portland, measuring just 4.5 miles by 1.75 miles, could only really have one concentration of houses on it, but I was wrong . In fact it has six, many of which have pretty period houses, giving away Portland’s affluent history, most likely generated by the millions of tonnes of Portland Stone hewn from the quarries which now make up many of our most iconic period buildings in the UK, including St Paul’s Cathedral. Portland Bill itself is really quite impressive. Apparently there are no less than three lighthouses on the Portland, and you can bag two of them at the Southern tip. Sitting on the headland looking out across the ocean toward Guernsey, the first thing that strikes you is the contrast between the relative calmness of Portland Harbour, which is overseen by Ocean Views, and the boiling sea that crashes onto the rocks at Portland Bill. Small sail boats litter the waters in the near distance, but on the horizon lie the monster yachts, carving the waters and mastering the winds. Not being of sailing blood, I’m quite happy to sit and watch these majestic yachts, imagining how hard the team of sailors must be working to tame the winds. Better them than me. Apart from the towering lighthouse, the view is dominated by the Pulpit Rock at the Western Edge of Portland Bill. This rock juts out and up from the headland, and is a favourite place for the brave and the foolish to climb. The view must be amazing, but the thought of losing my footing persuades me not to follow suit.
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Ocean Views, Weymouth, Dorset
Verne Citadel Back in the car I drive past the Pulpit Inn, this time resisting the temptation of a pint. I coast down the Island to the astounding Verne Citadel, a fortress which encloses 56 acres of land. This impressive piece of period engineering is surrounded by a man-made stone-lined moat so deep that you could stand two Double Decker busses end on end, and they still wouldn’t appear above the top of the outer wall. Started in 1847 as a temporary building for the prisoners that were constructing the breakwater, the Verne is made up of 3 million convict made bricks. When you consider the size of each brick and the depth of the moat, you can’t help but wonder how, in an age without heavy machinery, they managed to manoeuvre such enormous slabs into place, in only two years. Today the Verne remains a prison.
Relax, indulge unwind After such a busy day, I decided it was time to get back to the apartment, to check out Ocean Views’ facilities. I was not to be disappointed. The pool is what is known as a brimming pool; a kind of an infinity pool, but without the view. The water was fantastic and, having avidly watched the Olympics, I’d wager they’d describe this as a ‘slippery pool’ - the kind where you cut effortlessly through the water. So after a dozen or so laps, and a few imaginary gold medals, it was time to lie back in the heat of the sauna, and steam room. It took quite a bit to draw me away from the pool and hot-tub, but hunger eventually got the better of me. A cheeky bottle of wine and some lovely food later and I was blissfully happy. Sure, I could have gone out - the Blue Fish Cafe comes highly recommended - but after such a packed day, I was more than happy to sit back, relax, admire the evening view from the glass lined veranda.
Sunday was a sleep in day, and why not. Indulgence is what holidays are all about, and when the beds are as comfortable as those in Ocean Views, it’s hard to muster the energy to actually get up, but I did. Over an invigorating coffee I rather smugly watched junior triathletes run from the marina, past Ocean Views and into the local pool, which is just a matter of yards from the main entrance. Why people do it I’ll never know, and on a Sunday? I guess that’s impact of the Olympics. It may be a little mad, but you have to admire their pluck, especially the tiny ones. I thought that would be it, but no. Soon after they emerged once more and ran back past Portland Castle to the marina, one soggy footmark after another. Still, it did remind me to visit the Castle that lies just below Ocean Views. Two minutes later I was at the entrance of this beautiful English Heritage property ready for a bit of culture and history. The gardens are well worth a visit and the exterior architecture is really impressive, as are the cannons. With time pressing on, and an afternoon of activity ahead, I packed the car, waved goodbye to Ocean Views and headed off to the pretty village of Cerne Abbas, about twenty miles inland. It was something of pilgrimage
as my grandfather used to look after the Cerne Giant in the late eighties. After a pint in the New Inn and brunch, it was time to set out to climb the hill on which the Giant is carved. I’d scaled this as a child, but not as an adult. Can’t say it brought memories flooding back, but the view from the top was fabulous. Oddly, the one thing you can’t see when you are there is the Giant itself; the camber of the hill is such that you can only see the odd line here and there. To admire the Cerne Giant, you actually have to clamber back down and park in the lay-by just at the top of the village. Well worth it. With the day drawing in, it was time to return to Devon, but my memories of my weekend on Portland will linger, and I’ll be sure to return again as I only managed to scratch the surface of this ‘Island’ gem. Maybe next time I’ll come back to watch Olympians cross the finishing line from Ocean Views’ amazing grandstand vantage point. Now there’s a thought. Blue Chip Holidays has eleven luxury apartments at Ocean Views starting from £319 per week. See www.bluechipholidays.com/ocv
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Take a holiday from poor performing investments Liz Gill, who writes regularly for the Financial Times, looks into the merits of buying a holiday home as an investment.
or a generation the trend for Britons to holiday abroad was moving steadily upward, until one summer we asked ourselves: is it worth it and found the answer was often no. It was a combination of factors: the recession, the increasing wretchedness of air travel, the growing awareness that frizzling in hot sun was a health risk and the realisation that our own country was breathtakingly beautiful and packed with an enormous range of things to do. And, oh yes, the weather here could be glorious too. The ‘staycation’ was born in 2009 when, according to a UK Tourism survey, the number of holidays taken in England between June and August rose by 22 per cent and the amount spent increased by 20 per cent. Self-catering was up by 25 per cent and trips to the seaside by 24 per cent. Although no official figures are yet available for 2010, experts believe the phenomenon will be even more pronounced.
Now that the staycation appears to be here to stay, more and more people are considering the value of a holiday home both for their own enjoyment and to take advantage of the financial returns from this growing market. You can have memorable holidays with family and friends for years to come and get someone else to pay for it. Given that other investments are currently showing such a poor return, what with dismal bank interest rates and an uncertain stock market, an investment in holiday home bricks and mortar could be a sound alternative. Independent financial advisor Robin Clarke of Bluecoat Wealth Management* believes more holidaymakers staying in Britain strengthens the case for investment in a self-catering property. “Catering for that market via a property purchase should be a medium to long term investment with good returns and opportunity for asset growth in the long term”.
* Bluecoat Wealth Management: Robin Clarke Tel: 01273 466533 Fax: 020 7681 2861 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Adur Business Centre, Ropetackle, Shoreham-by-Sea West Sussex, BN43 5EG
Creekside, Looe, Cornwall (see www.bluechipholidays.com overleaf for details) | 27 Spring 2011
Liz Gill’s Top Five Tips for Buying a Holiday Home as an Investment
2. Unique Selling Point
5. Do your sums
The first is to find a place not only where you want to holiday, but where other people want to holiday too. This means finding an appealing but accessible location that has the pulling power of such attractions as beautiful beaches, lovely countryside, interesting places to visit and plenty of good pubs and restaurants. Once you find a property that ticks these boxes be sure to check that there is not an oversupply of similar properties in the area. You can do this by speaking to holiday home specialists in the area, such as Blue Chip Holidays, who can offer on-the-ground knowledge. Occupancy rates are obviously higher in places that have year-round appeal and so this needs to be taken into consideration too. Though the attractions of Devon and Cornwall are well established some investors may be tempted by the anticipated ‘Olympic effect’ on the lower profile Dorset, particularly Weymouth and Portland which will host the sailing events. Ocean Views in Portland, for example, which overlooks the course, has one bedroom apartments from £159,950, two bedrooms from £179,950, and three bedrooms from £339,550. Matthew Boe, Dorset Property Portfolio Manager for Blue Chip Holidays, says two bedroom apartments averaged between £18,500 and £24,000 in holiday bookings in the first nine months of 2010, nearly twice what a typical assured short-hold tenancy would bring in. “In 2012 this could rise to as much as £40,000, boosted by bookings during the actual Olympic and Para-Olympic weeks when rates could be three times as much as an ordinary high-season week. But this is not a flashin-the-pan opportunity. We anticipate that future return bookings will grow on the back of the Olympic experience.”
Also consider whether it’s worth paying extra for a unique selling point. Waterside properties or those with stunning views or a spectacular balcony will command a premium but they will also give you an edge over the competition. You should also ensure the property is stylishly furnished and excellently equipped: holidaymakers have high expectations these days and kitting a place out on the cheap is false economy.
Under current rules running costs can be offset against rental income. To get this tax break your property needs to be available for a minimum of 20 weeks and let for ten. From next Spring this bar is due to rise, which means your property will need to be available for at least 30 weeks and will need to be booked for 15 or more. When doing your sums remember to add in utility bills, council tax, insurance, wear and tear costs as well as any mortgage payments. Although the housing market remains stalled, many observers believe an eventual upturn is inevitable. In fact this is one of the reasons why many buyers are getting in now to take advantage of lower prices and to benefit from lower interest rates. Although the value of property does go up and down, as long as you’re not forced to sell at its lowest point you should see good capital increase.
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3. Target Market You should also think longer term both for yourselves and for your potential guests whose return bookings you want: toddlers might be content with rock pools and sand castles but older children and teenagers will want a bit more activity.
4. Use an agency You need to weigh up the advantages of going it alone against using a specialist holiday home letting agency to market your property for you. The knowledge, established customer database and dedicated marketing know-how of an agency can be invaluable, especially when it comes round to online and offline marketing, national press coverage and considerably bigger overall marketing budgets. Add to that 24 hour support and booking teams that are available to advise customers seven days a week and the agency route may be for you. The commission rate varies but it is almost certain to boost bookings, and that could be crucial under the new Furnished Holiday Letting Rules (see www.bluechipholidays.com/owner for more details).
“Investors may be tempted by the anticipated ‘Olympic effect’ on the lower profile Dorset”
Holiday Properties Currently Available 1. Isle of Wight
• West Bay, Halletts Shute, Yarmouth (pictured) • Golden Hill, between Freshwater and Totland
To see a full range of investment oppotuities across Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Isle of Wight or to see more details on the properties below visit www.bluechipholidays.com/owner
• The Ruby, Holsworthy (pictured) • Gara Rock, South Hams
• Ocean Views, Portland (pictured) • Seaspray, Weymouth
• Mill Meadow, Kingston St. Mary, Taunton (pictured)
• Creekside, Looe (pictured) • Black Rock Sands, Widemouth Bay
| 29 www.bluechipholidays.com Spring 2011
Food Heroes We interview one of the South West’s leading chefs, Paul Harwood, to get to know him, find out about his latest news and projects and sample one of his signature dishes.
First Course For Paul Harwood, Head Chef of Rick and Jill Stein’s St Petroc’s Bistro, Padstow, it was the dream of catching the next wave that brought him to Cornwall, where today he continues to cook up a storm. Brought up in Gants Hill, East London, Paul’s youth was one surrounded by food. His father was a market trader and that meant early rises, but it also meant the delights of eels and hand dived scallops. Coming from a Jewish family food was always central to daily life. His Nan, who lived with the family, and mum were both passionate about food, and Paul remembers well fresh salt beef and bagels with smoked salmon or chopped liver. It’s a vivid image that stays with him to this day. His father was also a cabbie, and when things were going well he’d pack the whole family in the back of the cab and whisk them down to Lido, an amazing Chinese restaurant in Soho that’s renowned not only for the large crispy ducks that hang in the window, but also for the wonderful food served there. “We’d all sit down”, says Paul chuckling, “and order a large bowl of Won Ton noodle soup each with a large
Spring 2011 www.bluechipholidays.com
crispy duck. It was a family tradition.” So it came as no great surprise that even from a young age Paul wanted to be chef. However, he also had a love of surfing having spent frequent summers in Cornwall as a child.
“We’d all sit down & order a large bowl of Won Ton noodle soup each with a large crispy duck. It was a family tradition” This drew him to the conclusion early on that if he was going to remain in the UK it was going to be in Cornwall. Paul worked in a number of notable restaurants in Newquay feeding his passion for surfing and his customers. In 1999 he saw an advert for a job at The Seafood Restaurant. Having seen ‘The Moment of Truth’ on TV that very same afternoon he applied for the role and was appointed as a demi chef. Within three short years he became junior sous chef and was given the honour of catering at Rick’s son’s wedding. He
also worked alongside Rick catering for 550 guests including Prince Charles at the Marine Stewardship Council Gala Dinner in Billingsgate Market. In 2002 Paul moved to St Petroc’s Bistro as sous chef before taking up the position of head chef at Rick Stein’s Café, where he picked up the Bib Gourmand, the Michelin Guide award for good quality cooking at moderate prices. Five years later he returned to St Petroc’s Bistro as head chef where today he uses outstanding produce to create truly memorable and robust food from Rick’s French, Italian and Spanish recipes. In 2009, Paul introduced a grill menu and traditional Sunday roasts at St Petroc’s, taking the bistro in a new direction. Whereas once fish clearly had pole position on the menu, it is now built around a mixture of classic bistro influences, with both seafood and meat dishes sitting prominently on the menu. Paul is aiming high with his ambitions for the grill at the bistro, but admits it will not be without its challenges: “When people think of Rick, they immediately make the connection to seafood. I still see people outside looking at our menu and they’re surprised when they realise it’s not just fish. Most people don’t realise Rick’s also created some fantastic meat
Photography Ewan Davy
dishes and that’s what I’d really like to promote.” 3-course £17.50 lunch menu You can enjoy many of Rick Stein’s French and Mediterranean dishes at St Petroc’s Bistro with a special £17.50 3-course lunch menu that runs until Sunday 3rd April 2011, excluding Monday 3rd January 2011. To book a meal call 01841 532700 Lunch is served each day between 12pm and 2pm. Dinner is served between 6.30pm and 9.30pm
For a wide selection of properties nearby visit www.bluechipholidays.com/newquay If you want to celebrate a family event in style, why not stay at the Lower Trevorgus Estate, which sleeps up to 14. For smaller parties Lower Trevorgus House can be booked for ten guests from just £729 per week. Visit www.bluechipholidays.com/lower for more information.
Paul’s Side Dishes Best place you’ve ever eaten? Mark Edward’s Nobu Favourite meal? Summer - Grilled lobster at The Seafood Restaurant. Winter - White truffle risotto. What’s next? Rick is currently working on his next BBC TV series, which is all about Spain. I can’t wait to start using recipes for the menu at the Bistro.
Main Course On our visit to St Petroc’s Bistro, Paul Harwood cooked Bourride of monk fish, king prawns and salt cod, but this can easily be made using Brill and red mullet in place of the Monkfish and Tiger Prawns. The secret to this amazing dish comes from Rick Stein’s Taste of the Sea published by BBC Books (price £13.99).
Food heroes? As a young man: Marco Pierre White. Now: Rick Stein, an inspiration who’s never sold out. Any tips for aspiring chefs?
If you’re near Padstow this is just one of the many tasty meals that you can enjoy in style at St Petroc’s Bistro.
Work hard, believe in yourself and what you want to do. Make your own luck.
Download Paul’s Bourride recipe from our website: www.bluechipholidays.co.uk/food Bourride
| 31 www.bluechipholidays.com Spring 2011
Ewan Davy looks back at a sensational Dartmouth Food Festival, and looks forward to next yearâ€™s event.
Spring 2011 www.bluechipholidays.com
“Fast becoming one of the best UK’s Food Festivals”
’ve been to a few food festivals in my time and the one thing I’ve noticed is that they tend to be infiltrated by ‘outsiders’. Don’t get me wrong, nobody likes great chorizo or Le Rustique more than I do, but when there’s so much fabulous regional food why confuse the issue with overseas produce? Why not bathe in the glory, the quirkiness and character of local foods and producers?
He’s championed local produce in his establishment for years working tirelessly to celebrate the best of the South West in his dishes. Now he is also the man who’s brought many of Britain’s best known chefs to what is fast becoming one of the best UK’s Food Festivals – just ask Henry Dimbleby.
It’s a sentiment that the organisers of the Dartmouth Food Festival have taken to heart. At this year’s event I found the fine food artisans who had crafted bread, matured cheese and cured meats to produce heavenly food that left me with a deep feeling of satisfaction. I also met fishmongers proudly displaying their catch of the day, so fresh that I could smell the sweetness of the sea in the air. More than anything I had the chance to meet the characters and understand the passion that they have for what they do. It’s not simply a way of life - it’s a devotion, a passion, an obsession. From bread making demonstrations by the hilarious and fascinating Richard Bertinet of the Bertinet Kitchen Cookery School, to fish excellence classes by fishmonger and raconteur Mark Lobb, this festival had the lot. Even children were catered for with apple-pressing demonstrations and other activities. Where better to educate your children about where food comes from?
Photography Dartmouth Food Festival
Much of the success and popularity of the Dartmouth Food Festival is down to food writer, award winning fishmonger and restaurateur Mitch Tonks, owner of the Seahorse in Dartmouth.
Sure, crowd-pleasers Valentine Warner and Mark Hix were from out of town, but their stories were intoxicating and their cooking divine. They were the headliners who succeeded in catapulting this fabulous festival onto the national stage, this year attracting visitors from far and wide to the picturesque South Hams. As well as food demonstrations and fascinating insights into techniques and skills, many of the visiting chefs rolled up their sleeves and cooked in the local restaurants. This year Valentine Warner cooked up a storm at the Seahorse as did Mark Hix, owner of the Hix Oyster & Chop House and former Executive Head Chef for Le Caprice and The Ivy. At both evenings a few lucky Blue Chip Holidays’ guests dined with them having won our competition draw. Another ten of our lucky guests attended the ‘Audience with Mitch Tonks’ event where a thoroughly entertaining cookery demonstration by the celebrity chef was accompanied by a tasting menu prepared by local chefs. My colleague who attended regaled us with stories the next day of high jinks in the demo kitchen, where Jane Baxter (Riverford
Cooking demonstrations at Dartmouth Food Festival
Field Kitchen) and Holly Jones (Manna from Devon) had joined Mitch Tonks in preparing a range of dishes – where they with substituted many of the ingredients with ‘unique’ alternatives at the last minute. ‘Auctioning’ to release stolen ingredients not only entertained the audience but also raised funds to support unemployed young people in pursuing a career in the kitchen. One of the highlights of the festival was the wine tasting evenings in the gun tower of the atmospheric and historic Dartmouth Castle. Hosted by the UK’s youngest Master of Wines, Liam Steevenson and wine and food critic for the Guardian, Fiona Beckett, these evenings were exclusive complimentary events for Blue Chip Holidays’ guests. The hosts ability to pair great wines with fabulous cheeses was pure genius, verging on alchemy! (see www.bluechipholidays.com/food to see all the wines & cheeses) Such was the success of the 2010 festival that Blue Chip Holidays will once again be involved in next year’s event that is taking place from Friday 21 – Sunday 23 October. Further details, including special offers and events for Blue Chip Holidays’ guests will be announced at www.bluechipholidays.com/food Early booking for the festival is advised, so visit: www.bluechipholidays.com/food for accommodation options.
A fantastic range of produce on display
| 33 www.bluechipholidays.com Spring 2011
Spring Clean Your Wine Rack 6 seasonal wines from Red&White
Master of Wine Liam Steevenson’s Red&White Wines supplies wine to the public from its shop on Fore Street, Kingsbridge.
As winter moves into spring it’s time to finish off winter’s heavy reds and restock with lighter, fresher wines. 1. Urban, Tempranillo 2008 £8 Mendoza’s cool nights help Urban to retain a freshness in this Tempranillo that keeps me drinking it right through to Summer when I give in and crack open the rosé! 4. Vina Tabali, Pinot Noir 2008 £10.50 Bright raspberry and red cherry fruits come with a touch of toasty spice from this great winery in Chile’s northerly Limari Valley.
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2. Henri Gouges, Nuits-Saint-Georges 2004 £41 Despite a craving for freshness, I still want my reds with a bit of weight, and this Cote de Nuits Pinot Noir is just perfect.
3. Telmo Rogriguez, Basa Blanco 2009 £9 This zippy, zesty white from the Verdejo grape is Spain’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. Irresistable!
5. La Rioja Alta, Rioja Gran Reserva “890” 1995 £100 Where else to look for a wine to complement an Easter Lamb extravagance than the traditionally mature layers of leathery fruity flavours found in this bottle. Comes from one of Rioja’s leading estates.
6. Dog Point, Sauvignon Blanc 2008 £15 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc has real finesse and elderflower aromatics. And it comes from the original team behind Cloudy Bay.
Red&White are offering a 10% discount to all Blue Chip Holidays clients. Please mention Blue Chip Holidays when ordering.
All wines are available from Red&White, The Wine Store, 99 Fore Street, Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 1AB 01548 853898 www.red-white.co.uk
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Some things in life really are free… Recommend your friends to Blue Chip Holidays and you could receive an unlimited amount of Marks & Spencer’s vouchers! There’s nothing better in life than sharing the things you love with those who are closest to you. So why not let your friends in on the South’s best kept secret, and for every booking made you will receive £25 in M&S vouchers to spend on your own little luxuries. If you’ve booked with us before, simply ask your friends to quote your Customer Reference Number* and the word ‘REFER’ at the time of booking (telephone bookings only) and you will receive your vouchers once your friend’s deposit has been paid* - it’s as simple as that. So what are you waiting for - get spreading the word and start earning your vouchers now!
Find out more at www.bluechipholidays.com/refer *Your Customer Reference Number can be found on the carrier sheet that came with this magazine or telephone 0844 704 1735 and out bookings team will be able to assist you.
*Terms & Conditions Referrals must be new customers to Blue Chip Holidays and must reside at a different address from yourself. The vouchers cannot be exchanged for cash. Bookings made must contain customer reference number and the code ‘REFER’ to qualify (written as REFER/CUSTOMERID). Vouchers are dispatched once a month at the beginning of the month after the deposit has been paid.
Win a fabulous self-catering holiday with Blue Chip Holidays One lucky reader will win £500 towards a fabulous self-catering holiday. Think of the South West, the Isle of Wight and Wales and imagine miles of stunning beaches, beautiful rolling countryside, dramatic views, history, heritage and family friendly holidays. Enjoy family fun, a romantic break or an adrenalin filled holiday staying in any one of our personally selected, luxurious self-catering properties. There are over 800 places to stay in, ranging from stunning period houses to cosy cottages, barn conversions, chic coastal apartments, and contemporary custom-built lodges. You can enjoy glorious mornings by the sea or amazing views across rolling hills, estuaries, or over cliff tops, all from your very own holiday home.
For a chance to win this fantastic prize simply tell us the location from the following clues: “Fresh fish are landed here daily. Sir Francis Drake’s flagship resides here. Cow Town and Fish Town make up this fishing town. Pirates gather here to break world records.” Is it: A - Portsmouth B - Brixham C - Newquay Enter online before 30 April 2011 at www.bluechipholidays.com/magcomp
Terms and conditions: The prize provides the winner with a £500 voucher toward the cost of any stay in one Blue Chip Holidays 790+ properties. The prize is subject to availability and is non-transferable. No cash alternative will be given. Travel is not included as part of the prize; this is the responsibility of the winner. The winner is responsible for his or her own travel insurance. The prize must be taken before the end of December 2011.