Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Best French Food

After being in France a number of times now, we wanted to share this quick and simple tip about eating in the country.

When we think about proper French dining, we often think about posh Michelin star restaurants with meals served in their fancy sauces, but for the real taste of France, you can achieve it without the fancy pricetag of a top restaurant.

You can forget the fancy french cuisine and dig into a cheap French classic, thats right, you don't need to visit the big fancy places you can experience France with the simplest of food ... the humble sandwich.

Most French people you meet could talk for hours about the baguette; and they eat a lot of them, 3 million Jambon-beurre (ham sandwiches) alone are sold every day in France, and in our opinion one of the best fast-foods in France.

When made properly with great ingredients, it is a meal fit for a King.

If you are in Paris, then get your baguette from Le Jambon Beurre (http://lejambonbeurre.net), they are the best.
The small cafe is close to the Louvre Museum and the area it is situated in is full of little bars and patisserie and is a view of real french life.

But just choose a baguette that is stuffed with ingredients, they may be cheap, but you want it to feel like you've eaten a meal.

Good baguettes have that wonderful crispy crust and a light and springy centre, avoid ones your might find sold in supermarkets and larger stores and instead try to find smaller sellers.

An interesting fact for you, Baguettes are Parisian, originally because of the size of the city, thousands of bakeries made the baguette which was consumed the same day, further outside of Paris larger loafs (and not baguettes) were baked that laster longer than a day.

So to experience real French cuisine, just get yourself a very tasty baguette with a filling of your choice.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Great Yarmouth – Review

The last time I visited Great Yarmouth was as a teenager, this was where we had all of our family holidays from when I was born until I was about 14 years old, so returning some 37 years later as part of a grown up couple was a bit of a pilgrimage for me.

The lead up to this long weekend break was a little nerve-racking, you romanticise about your childhood holiday destinations (well I do!), and as a kid I loved everything about this place, I didn’t know whether it had changed beyond all recognition , potentially destroying my memories forever.

I needn’t have worried, as I am pleased to report that this seaside town has been brought up to date where it needed to be, but ultimately this is the same Great Yarmouth of my youth.

Great Yarmouth boasts 15 miles of golden sandy beaches and loads of attractions meaning that you can’t easily get bored.

Like most British Seaside resorts, Great Yarmouth is a very traditional town, but unlike many it’s managed to keep up to date and is now a modern seaside resort that is steeped in history and offers visitors a fantastic mix of sea, sand, sun, entertainment and heritage.

We stayed and the very smart and we’ll appointed Furzedown Hotel just a few minutes walk from the popular Britannia Pier area of the town and opposite the unique Venice-inspired water gardens (Waterways) that had just been reopened after a £2.7m restoration. When I was young this had animal themed boat rides around the canals, but whilst the rides are no more it is still a popular (and free) attraction to take a relaxing walk or sit for a while.

So we started at one end of The Golden Mile; a must for thousands of visitors where you can take a stroll along its wide pavements enjoying numerous attractions along the way, including amusement arcades, adventure golf, Sealife centre, model village, horse and carriage rides, fairground rides, Pleasure Beach and gardens as well as take advantage of the many places to eat and drink at numerous stalls and restaurants.

Britannia Pier

The Britannia Pier and Joyland hasn’t really changed over the years which I loved. The bustling Pier (one of two at Great Yarmouth) has the traditional mix of amusements and fairground stalls, restaurant/cafe and theatre.

Joyland

Next to this Pier you have the Joyland which I loved as a kid, most of the old rides are still here, it’s aimed at younger children (with shorter and gentler rides) but we couldn’t resist taking a ride on The Snails (honest, it was just old times sake!).

The prices surprised us (in a pleasant way), you need to buy tokens for the rides, we just bought our two tokens for £1.50 each which I didn’t think was expensive at all, larger bags of tokens can be purchased to bring the price down a little further.

Actually, the prices at Great Yarmouth was a pleasant surprise, we travel a lot around the UK, and I have to say that the prices of everything here are very reasonable.

A walk along the Prom reveals a wonderful golden beach with donkey rides, and a few fairground rides. There are plenty of places to stop and rest and numerous places to have a snack and drink.

Wellington Pier

The Wellington Pier has been redeveloped a little and looks definitely cleaner and more modern than it did when I was a kid, here you’ll find amusements, 10 lanes of 10-pin bowling and your usual mix of cafes, kiosks and shops.

The old Winter Gardens is the towns iconic Victorian glass building, it’s a Grade II*-listed building which has been closed for the last 10 years and is in an urgent state of repair and was recently named as one of the UK's most endangered buildings, it’s very sad to see any beautiful building needing this much care and attention. I hope it gets the restoration it so urgently needs very soon.

A Hidden Delight

Just up from the Wellington Pier and to the right of the model village we found a little gem, a small museum of old 1p and 2p amusement machines that you can still use and the delightful Merrivale Tearooms.

Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach

At the other end of the Golden Mile is the Pleasure Beach. This will always be a fun place to visit, young generations get to enjoy some smaller rides, older generations get to enjoy some nostalgia. 80’s pop fans will love the fact that Madness filmed “House of Fun” on the rollercoaster. Staff are friendly, prices again are reasonable.

Shopping

If you need some retail therapy then Great Yarmouth doesn’t disappoint as there are plenty of independent boutiques and shops, big high street names and traditional souvenir shops.

Regents Road is great for shopping (and it’s looks like more to come with some redevelopment happening) and is the main way up to the town and market area. The market is home to some delicious produce, especially fresh fish, locally reared meat, farm-grown vegetables and fresh bread.

Eating Out

The options for eating out are vast and you can be sure of a delicious meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants, pubs or tearooms; or just treat yourself to some hot chips, freshly made donuts, afternoon tea or a refreshing ice cream.

There is simply so much to see, do and experience that you’ll never be bored. We are certainly going to make this trip an annual event.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

How To Have a Cheap Day At The Seaside

We are currently enjoying a wonderful long weekend in Great Yarmouth, it's the seaside location of my youth and I was very excited to come back here.

Like many Brits, we love going to the beach, its a great way to spend quality time with loved ones, and really helps to bring people together.  Young kids love British beaches, teenages do, parents and the older generation all love the seaside.

But a simple day by the sea can be expensive, so we decided to look at ways and give some advice on how to reduce the cost a little and make it affordable for all.

Transport

If you are lucky enough to live close to the beach then this one is easy and cheap. 
Unfortunately, many of us don't, so tye cost of getting to and from the resort of your choice needs to be considered.

Coach trips can be very cost effective, you can find some amazing value days out trips from some of the biggest coach tour operators (nationalholidays.com, shearings.com etc), its worth taking a look or signing up for their emails.

Also sign up for emails from your local train company as they often have day out special offers too during the summer. If your train operator doesn't have anything available, then book your train early to get it at a slightly cheaper rate.

Also if you sign up by email, they often send you last minute discounts for places they are finding it difficult to sell.

Food

Our old favourite advance about taking your own picnic still stands, but as you are in the UK there are some cheap options.
A supermarkets tend to have cheap meal deals, you can also buy sandwiches and sausage rolls in pound and discount shops to really help reduce the cost.

Supermarkets are a great source of cheap treats too. Everyone fancy an ice cream? Don't pay £2+ each on the front, chances are you could get ice cream for a family of 4 for £2 from the supermarket.

Drink

Drinks are the same, its important to stay hydrated, and buying drinks from cafes or kiosks may be convenient but it can be a real drain on your finances.
Either take a flask or buy in bulk from the local supermarket.
Some seaside towns also have free water fountains dotted about.

Activities

This can be a huge drain on finances, but if the weather is nice, you can often find plenty of things to do that are cheap or free.

If you have kids that love playing in the amusements teach them the fun of the 2p machines, you can spend a decent amount of time on these for just a couple of quid.

Sunbathing

Some love it, some don't. But its a great free activity to do when the weather is nice. Remember to protect yourself and your family from the sun.

Paddling in the Sea

Completely free and a great activity fir people of any age. Please remember that young children should be accompanied at all times.

Build Your Own Paddling Pool

Its possible to buy a very cheap shower curtain (try your local Pound shop, discount store or equivalent), dig a large hole on the beach, line it with your shower curtain and fill with water.

Swimming

A fantastic way to burn off a little energy, stay cool and have fun.  If swimming is your goal, head for a beach that has its own lifeguard station close by and watch for the warning flags.

Crabbing/Rock pools

This is an old favourite at the beach.
You can spend hours trying to catch crabs.  Simple to do, all you need is some crab nets, some bait and a bucket so you can admire the crabs you have caught.  Remember to be kind and put them back in the rock pool when you have finished.

Building Sandcastles

You can easily buy cheap buckets and spades near the beach, so there is no need to worry about getting these before you go. 
Also at many seaside resorts you can buy a bucket full of chips for a reasonable price.

Keep the bucket and spades for another seaside trip.

Ask the Experts

Most seaside resorts have a tourist information centre, go and ask them about local cheap activities, they'll know the latest things to do locally and will have some discount vouchers for many activities that cost money.

Collecting shells and fossils

Whrn kids are little they to love to walk up and down the beach collecting shells, nice pebbles and even fossils can be found on some beaches.  Collect them in a bucket to either take home or draw pictures in the sand.
Once home painting shells and pebbles gives you an extra activity to do and acts as a reminder for years of where you have been :-)

Playing Sports

Footballs, cricket, rounders equipment etc is very cheap to buy (again, use a local Pound or discount store etc) and provides loads of fun. Kite flying is also great for younger children (and some grownups) and again can be very cheap to buy.

Frisbee

Another cheap item to purchase, which will give you loads of fun on the beach.  You will also be able to use this at the park after your trip.

Accommodation

If the distance to the seaside you are off to is too far for you to travel there and back in one day, you may wish to consider an overnight stay.

Our top money saving tips here is to book in advance and pick accommodation that is just out of the centre of things as it'll be cheaper.

Just watch out for hidden extras which can include parking charges, supplements for more than two adults in a room or late arrival, these can turn a cheap stay into a more expensive one.

All that’s left is for you to head out with your family in tow, and enjoy a great day out at thre seaside without breaking the bank.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Travel Insurance - our two best tips!

Travel insurance is really simple, it’s so simple that we are proud to present our top 2 tips.

Tip 1 – Get It

Travel insurance is critically important, and everyone should get travel insurance for his or her holidays, no longer how short the trip is, get travel insurance.

Tip 2 – Get It Now

We hear stories all the time about the problems that happen when people don’t get travel insurance as soon as their book their holidays. “I booked a holiday then broke my leg just before we were about to go, I called the travel agent and because I’m flying in three weeks’ time they won’t cancel my holiday and refund me.”

Did they have travel insurance?

“I was going to leave it until nearer the time.”

It is not the travel agents fault, if you get travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday then as a rule of thumb you are covered for cancellations.

Imagine you bought a pair of trousers and broke your leg; you wouldn’t be able to take the trousers back and get a refund because your trousers are faulty!

With travel insurance, in the event that you are ill, in the event a family member dies, in the event that something happens and you can't go on holiday, you will be covered by your travel insurance from the day you take it out.

If you are reading this and you have already booked your holiday but you haven’t got your travel insurance then you’re throwing money away, as you insurance should be covering you from today.

And it needn’t cost a fortune, a simple check of the popular price comparison sites show that you should be able to get European travel insurance for about £10 per person per week. This is for a no frills policy.

Give them a go:

www.gocompare.com
www.moneysupermarket.com
www.insureandgo.com
www.comparethemarket.com

The whole idea behind travel insurance is to cover you for the things that you’re not expecting.

There’s the expected unexpected like cancellations and delays and then there's the unexpected and expect it's like a volcano in Iceland that stops you flying, the better your insurance policy, the more you will be covered for.

So you can either go no frills that covers you on the basics or we can try and get a policy which you pay more for that has wider cover levels. That's up to you to decide.

But, in answer to the basic question “When Should I Buy Travel Insurance?”the answer is as soon as you book your holiday.






Monday, 15 July 2019

Save Money on Your Holiday Car Hire

Every summer millions of us jet off somewhere and get behind the wheel of a car hire car, but are we always getting a good deal?

WHEN TO BOOK

The first thing to point out is that you will always be better off booking your hire car well in advance, never leave it until you get out there.

As an example, if you are booking a cheap car now for Tenerife or Malaga for example, then you are probably paying £12-15 a day, leave it until you get there and this is likely to soar to anywhere between £40-50 a day.

So if you are going away in the next week or two or your holiday is months away … BOOK NOW!

We would get on a price comparison site like Kayak.co.uk or a popular car rental company and book.

FUEL SCAMS

Here’s a quick tip if you are looking for a fairly short hire (just a few days) whilst away.

Many car hire companies where they let you take away a car with a full tank and return it empty.

The problem is that you are going to pay £100+ for the tank of fuel for a medium sized car and if you only use half of it, it wasted money. So look at the hire fuel options so that you pay for just what you use. This can be a big hidden cost that care hire firms use abroad.

INSURANCE SCAMS

The other big scan with car hire overseas is the insurance.

We all feel that nothing bad is going to happen when driving abroad and you might want just the basic insurance; but when you collect your vehicle at the desk you are often put under pressure to up the insurance with scare stories about how much you might need to pay if you return it with mechanical problems or scratches etc. and this would mean you having to pay a large excess.

We have had car hire companies wanting £12+ a day insurance, where companies like moneymaxim.co.uk can often provide a whole trips insurance for the same price or less.

In addition, it’s always worth spending a few £’s on excess insurance just in case you need to pay some.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVING LICENCE

You will need to pay for an international driving license, but if you're driving in Europe on holiday then you don't need one as the UK Driving Licence is sufficient (and probably will be after Brexit).

However, if you're going beyond Europe an international driving licence recommended in most countries and required in some (including the USA). Cheapest place to get it is at the post office where it's only £5.50. There is also a good check on https://www.postoffice.co.uk/international-driving-permit#IDP-Checker to see if you do actually need one for where you are going.

DRIVING TO FRANCE?

If you are planning to drive to France in your own car, then you might need a 'clean air' windscreen stickers as it is now a legal requirement in some French cities (including Paris, and Lyon, Lille, Strasbourg and Marseille etc.).

This little certificates (called Crit'Air vignettes) are part of a new sticker system that identify what emissions your vehicle produces, and they are a legal requirement in French cities with the poorest air quality.

Not displaying one of these stickers could lead to a £60 fine.

You apply for them via the official Crit’Air website.








Thursday, 11 July 2019

5 Top Tips For Easy Air Travel

There is no denying that it sometimes feels that it’s getting increasingly difficult to fly without running into problems or issues, whether there are problems at the terminal, airline, or something personal.

Plus, if you are a nervous flyer, these issues can seem to escalate and make your journey seem worse, increasing your worries and nervousness, so here are a few of our top tips to help ease the stress of travel a little.

1. Get to the Airport Early

Airlines like you to get to the airport early anyway, as it helps them provide a better service for all passengers and helps to ensure that everyone is ready for the flight at the allotted departure time, they typically ask you to arrive two hours early.

All it takes is a problem on the roads around the airport or longer than usual queues at the check-in counter for this two-hour cushion to start to be eroded quickly.

And if you do leave it late to arrive and you end up missing your flight then it’s not usually a simple case of getting you on the next available flight, but a new flight needs to be booked and last minute booking cannot always be guaranteed.

2. Take a Morning Flight.

It’s a fact in the airline industry that there is are usually less flights overnight, and the little bit of slack that this creates allows potentially late flights to catch up meaning that early in the morning flights are less likely to be late.

So if you definitely do not want to be late at your destination then consider a very early morning flight.

3. Try Not to Fly During “Rush Hour”

Just like our roads, airports have rush hours too, these are the times of the day that get the busiest, the lines at check-in are longer, also queues at security check points, restaurants etc. The shops are busy and all the seating in the departure areas are taken. This all makes for more stressful journeys. The QUIETER times are usually from 10am to 13:30 and 7pm to 7:30am.

Travelling at these times will help alleviate the need to stand with the crowds and will help you to start your holiday less stressed.

4. Try to Take Non-Stop Flights

It seems obviously doesn’t it, but when you take a non-stop flight there a much lower risk of the flight been delayed – the process of taking off and landing can be fairly lengthy, so if you avoid doing this twice then you will be better off.

Sometimes when you book a holiday you may be told that there is a stop off on the journey, now if you hate landing and taking off, ask your travel agent to look for flights that are non-stop; they will be able to find some, you may have to pay a little extra, but it can be worth it to reduce your stress levels.

5. Book Connections with Enough Time

If a non-stop flight is not available to a desired destination, make sure to schedule enough time in between connecting flights. When airlines book flights, they often have a layover requirement of 30 or 45 minutes between connections.
However, this is often not enough time if the original flight arrives late, and rushing can increase stress levels. In order to avoid this stress, try to schedule connecting flights with at least an hour to spare between the arrival time of the first flight and the departure time of the connecting flight.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Travelling Alone - Made Easy

Traveling on your own can be a great adventure. If you travel alone, you will get to know yourself better and you’ll be able to follow your own schedule.

If you've been holding back, these great tips will make it easier for you to head out alone.


When you travel alone you'll learn how to deal with three of the most common concerns.

Coping with Loneliness and Boredom


You may wonder about whether you'll get lonely if you travel alone. The truth is that learning to enjoy your own company makes solitude very rewarding indeed. But what most people that travel alone discover is that on their journey they will find some form of companionship if they want it.


So our key tips for everyone that travels alone are:


1. Engage fully. Be mindful of your surroundings. Most people travel alone to allow them to experience new things for the first time, so get caught up in these new experiences as you travel, don’t say “no”, don’t put things off, and you’ll quickly find that it will leave very little time for boredom.


2. Take a tour. A day tour is ideal for meeting new acquaintances and see things you might not ever see. It's easy to strike up a conversation when you share the same interests with others and you're away from your usual routine. Lone travellers do like to meet up with other lone travellers often, but still keep their own itinerary.


3. Dine out. Look for places with communal tables or ask your hotel to recommend somewhere. Eat at the bar if you feel conspicuous at a table.


4. Stay at a bed and breakfast. The owners of a bed and breakfast are usually very hospitable and love helping travellers; many will be very be happy to talk about local attractions. Hostels are another very good choice. There will likely be other guests and maybe even others travelling alone at these types of places.


5. Frequent local businesses. Visiting the same fruit stall every day will quickly turn you into a regular. Exchange greetings and let them know you appreciate any advice on what to see, you’ll get brilliant local advice this way.


6. Talk with new people. Approach your fellow travellers or locals who seem friendly and helpful. Trains, coffee shops and accommodation are two good places to start.

7. Do volunteer work. Sign up with a non-profit organisation and perform group volunteer work. For example, travel to exciting places while building new homes through Habitat for Humanity.

8. Pursue solitary activities. Whilst it is nice to meet up with others to share experiences you are travelling alone for a reason, visit an art museum or lie on the beach with a good book. Enjoy the peace and relaxation you get from being alone.

Protecting Your Safety


Security is an important concern for any traveller. Some basic precautions will reduce your risks.


1. Blend in. Looking like a tourist may leave you vulnerable. Walk with confidence and step inside a hotel to check your map.

2. Be alert. Observe what's going on around you. Ask your hotel to advise you about where it's safe to walk. If you're near an unsafe area, avoid unnecessary risks by taking a cab to your destination.

3. Watch your money. You may want to wear a shoulder bag strapped across your body or under a coat. Consider using a money belt or clip. Solo travellers are often the perfect target for pickpockets.

4. Watch your smartphone. As a lone traveller, this is probably one of your most important processions, but also one of your most vulnerable. Don’t check it out in the open if at all possible and always keep it in a secure location.

5. Assess your fluency. Language skills also matter. Ask yourself if you can communicate clearly in case of a medical emergency.


6. Gather your documents. Put a copy of your identification and health insurance in your pocket. Leave a second copy with loved ones at home.


7. Check in at home. Speaking of home, give your full itinerary to at least one person. Call or text them every few days to let them know you're okay. There have been too many instances of travellers disappearing on a trip and nobody realising for quite some time.


8. Pack light. Leave your valuables at home. Traveling with minimal baggage increases your comfort and your ability to move quickly. Consider getting an Anti Theft Backpack

Sticking to Your Budget


You may run into what's called "single supplements" on cruises and tours. This is when the venue charges single travellers extra to try and make up for the lack of a second customer. Still, there are plenty of ways to vacation affordably on your own.


1. Save up in advance. Put money aside gradually. Small amounts add up over time.


2. Be flexible about timing. You'll tend to find the best deals at the last minute or several months before your departure. Be open to traveling during the off-season for further monetary savings.


3. Look for special bargains. Check discount travel sites and look for deals. Some venues may even be willing to waive the single supplement.


4. Accept roommates. Contact travel companies who specialise in people travelling alone. Ask to be paired up with another single traveller who is headed to your same destination.

Travelling alone will create memories you'll treasure for life.