Tag: UK holidays

Why my op-ed travel feature seemed to touch a nerve with dog owners

It has recorded 191 comments by the time I write this.

Some supportive, some hostile. Many are knee-jerk reactions and include some venting of personal bias.

But I’ve enjoyed reading them all.

After all, it’s great as a writer to have a dialogue with readers — even if they are insulting you.

What did surprise me, however, was one of my regular travel features that has never attracted animated such debate.

I’d clearly touched a nerve.

So it is that my op-ed feature for Telegraph Travel, playing up a pantomime take on the way some dog owners will sneer at young children while letting their pets run amuck, will probably be my most read story of the year.

Here’s a sample:

The thing that grates most of all for me, personally, is not the dogs — many are well behaved and offer valuable companionship — but the vitriol that some dog owners heap upon families who dare to take small children out for lunch.

The hysterical hypocrisy of dog owners can be quite staggering, sneering at kids while taking the high-handed view that waiters and fellow diners should all pander to every whim of their prized, pampered pooch.

Read the full feature here and join the debate. All comments are welcome — no, really.

Why my postcard from Llandudno has a taste of seaside nostalgia

It was a weekend of seaside nostalgia.

We took a trip to Llandudno last weekend to write a postcard from the North Walian resort for Telegraph Travel.

But it was also something of a personal journey.

I used to go to Llandudno on family holidays as a child — that’s me aged around five with my mum on the prom at the North Shore [pictured above].

This time I was back with my own two daughters for a UK seaside break after our original holiday plans were cancelled under lockdown.

But how would an old-school seaside resort shape up for two Tick Tock teens?

Here’s a taster of my story:

The collapse of air bridges has led to the North Wales coast enjoying a post-lockdown bonanza.

We find Landudno’s pebbly North Beach busy with rockpool paddlers, despite some rather menacing clouds over the Great Orme, and the cafés along Mostyn Street bustling with al-fresco diners seeking Cymru-sur-mer vibes.

“People are hungry for good food they don’t have to prepare and clean up afterwards,” says Michael Waddy, Executive Chef at the Empire Hotel.

Read the full story here.

Robin Hood: how to follow the legend around Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire

Robin Hood is making a comeback.

The latest take on the folk tale hits cinema screens this winter (November 23).

It’s a darker, more adventure-based retelling of the traditional story, starring The Kingsman‘s Taron Egerton in the lead role and produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The film comes off the back of the opening of the new Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre, a new £5m facility in partnership with the RSPB, which opens to the public late August this year.

We had a preview, writing an article for a forthcoming issue of Family Traveller magazine. We also visited Creswell Crags, where Robin Hood is alleged to have hidden in the Ice Age caves [pictured above].

Local history expert John Charlesworth told us how the Robin Hood story has always been a favourite of cinema audiences.

The American actor Errol Flynn played the outlaw with verve in the 1938 classic The Adventures of Robin Hood, while the last film, starring Russell Crowe as the man in Lincoln green was released in 2010.

There was even a 1960’s Canadian cartoon series, Rocket Robin Hood, which finds Robin living on the Sherwood asteroid in outer space.

“For me Errol Flynn portrayed Robin Hood best, with great fencing and a superb musical score, but I do have a sneaking fondness for Robin and Marian (1976), staring Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. It has a more poignant feel, portraying Robin as a man out of his time.”

Read more in the autumn issue of Family Traveller magazine.

British Pilgrimage — spiritual journey or Emperor’s New Clothes?

I took a weekend out during the summer.

Just me and a brand new experience. It felt good.

I joined a weekend pilgrimage [pictured above] with the British Pilgrimage Trust, a charitable trust with a modern-day take on the ancient art of pilgrimage.

After a night in an Airbnb in Frome and meeting a group of 20 complete strangers over coffee the next morning, we set off — pilgrim staffs in hands [pictured above].

It was a long haul, covering some 12 miles per day, although the bucolic countryside of the Avon Valley helped to distract from the burgeoning blisters.

After two full days of walking, we arrived into Bath and took the waters to conclude a pilgrimage devoted to the goddess Sulis Minerva.

Sinking in

So how did I feel at the end of the weekend? Underwhelmed.

The idea of weekend alone with my thoughts in nature really appealed. But the practicality of the pilgrimage itself started to grate, especially after we arrived really late at our overnight stop on the first day and having run out of water.

If you’ve got a group of people paying £150 a head to join the pilgrimage, you have a duty to cover the basics and look after people.

Maybe, I was expecting too much. As one of the walk leaders told me over breakfast:

“It’s about giving our pilgrims an experience. Whether they enjoy it or not, it’s still an experience.”

Tacking stock

I’ve deliberately waited a couple of months before pitching and placing an article about my experience. It will be published in the new year.

Meanwhile, I’ve had time to think back over the weekend. Did I bring my own stresses or preconceptions to the pilgrimage? Or is this type of group experience simply more Scout camp than spiritual journey?

Read my article and decide for yourself. Here’s a preview:

We finally made it to Iford Manner on the Somerset-Wiltshire border as night fell, tired and hungry, for an al-fresco take-away dinner and homemade cider.

Bedding down en masse on sleeping mats in an outbuilding that night, I pulled the sleeping bag around me glad to rest.

This pilgrimage lark, I was coming to realise, was no walk in the park.

A pilgrimage should be about the journey, not the destination. But it was only when I spent time alone in Bath afterwards that I actuallly found the sense of peace I had been looking for all along.

I’m not planning to re-book. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a pilgrim after all.