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SUMMER STAYCATION

The number of people opting not to go abroad for their summer holidays has been on the increase, and this year sees higher levels than ever choosing to remain in the UK. One reason is that a fair few are still feeling the pinch of the recession, whilst others are worried about security and health issues overseas. More importantly, a very good reason for people to stay put this season is because there is nothing quite like the idyllic, halcyon days of an English summer.

Imagine not having to go and wait in a sweaty airport terminal at some awful hour in the morning, while disgruntled holidaymakers scowl miserably as their flights are delayed and they have to try and re-pack overweight luggage. Or trying to think of different ways to entertain your children whilst you catch five minutes of peaceful sunbathing on the beach. There’s the hassle of remembering passports, changing money to whichever foreign currency you’re going to need, language barriers at below-par hotels and generic, touristy food that could be from anywhere. Of course, it’s always good to embrace new cultures and see a bit of the world; there’s no doubt about that. However, there is a lot to be said for staying on our fair island over the summer months – which is much better avoided in the winter, after all!

Now remember this; the smell of mown grass as you lie under a big old tree, looking up through brilliant green leaves at patches of bright blue sky. The joy of long pub lunches in their garden, home-brewed ales and lagers glowing amber in the hot sun, ice tinkling in that delectably cold glass of white wine. The light only going at 10:30 in the evening, after a long day of fresh air and blissful warmth. The thrill of all the different festivals and parties you might go to, the friends you’ll be able to spend time with and the scrumptious seasonal food. Not to mention the ice cream you’ll spill down your shirt…

The UK tourism and entertainment industries are responding with alacrity to the growing rate of domestic tourism, creating incredible shows, events, festivals, markets and so much more. Hotels, inns, pubs and B and Bs are upping their standards dramatically. Plus, lets not forget the fact that this country has some extraordinarily lovely landmarks and areas of astounding natural beauty, which you don’t always get the chance to go and enjoy – what better time to see them than a gorgeous summer weekend?

One of the best features of an English summer is the plethora of fantastic festivals taking place from May to September. If ever you could say there was something for everyone, it would be now. Whether you are looking for music or literature, comedy or performance arts – and all sorts of things in between – you’re sure to find it somewhere. They’re fairly evenly scattered across the country, so it wouldn’t necessarily even mean a terribly long road trip – unless you wanted to get to one of the further flung ones – which tend to reward you with outrageously beautiful settings.

There are a few really good things to remember about why festivals should be an essential feature in your summer itinerary. First of all, you can go with all your friends, and spend some quality time together having your mind blown by great music, stunning visuals, fascinating workshops and a sense of carnival madness. Second of all, it’s really good to suspend yourself from reality from time to time, and the exuberant cheer of a festival is the ideal place to do that. Third – do it for the children! So many festivals these days have special areas, acts, entertainers and activities for children that it’s almost unkind not to let them experience it.

Fourth, and this is something that applies not only to festivals, but wherever you want to do it; for the sake of camping. Sometimes, you can leave a thing so long that you forget how much fun it actually is. Remember when you were little, and there was nothing more thrilling than making a den in the sitting room out of blankets and pillows, or better yet, being allowed to sleep outside at night? Well, going to bed under the crisp night sky is still a truly marvelous experience. Better yet, you don’t have to wake up damp having forgotten your flysheet, or with a crooked neck because you forgot your pillow. Instead, you can go glamping.

If you get the chance to do some glamping, wherever it is, then you should do it. It will speak to your sense of adventure and exploration, at the same time as soothing that part of you that needs comfort and privacy. With just a sweep of canvas between you and the stars, stretching out on a real hardwood bed amongst heavenly high-thread count linens, you just can’t help but be happy. Whether you share with friends or book your own bell tent, this is an experience you’ve got to have this summer.

So now that spring is in the air and the nation’s collective temperament is looking sunnier, you can poke your head up a bit and starting thinking about all the fun that’s on its way. While you’re planning your holiday, remember all the superb options that are right on your doorstep. And best of all, wherever you end up, the most desirable accommodation in all the land is yours to have, because we can go anywhere you wish.

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