The Summer holidays are here!

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,

we must carry it with us or we find it not. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Summer is in full swing and it is the time of year when most of us are thinking of enjoying time off from work, school, commitments or simply a break from the normal routine. It is also the season to enjoy the usually better weather, get outdoors more, go sightseeing, travel and rest. The sunny summer of 2018 has been gloriously blessed, until now, with good weather and has helped in my decision to have a Staycation.

My last staycation was in 2012 and I am certainly happy to try mini-breaks in the UK this year having been away consistently for the last few years. As an adult, I have had time off the whole summer when I was on maternity leave twice, in between jobs and redundant. It was a blessing in disguise to spend the whole summer off, even if I had to be on a budget. I will write about one of my mini-breaks in 2018 here.

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There is also the cost of travelling that has been one of the factors for me having a staycation this summer. In ‘Caravan and Camping Sites in the UK’ report by IBIS World predicts 2.3% annual grow to reach £3.8 billion by 2023-34. The report is also insightful on why other British travellers may be doing this: “weather patterns and fluctuations in exchange rates will continue to encourage domestic tourism over the next few years, as the UK remains a cheap holiday destination”. The report goes on to explain: “fragile consumer confidence is likely to cause families to delay discretionary expenditure on holidays over the next few years. However, this could also have a positive effect on the industry as UK holidaymakers who would previously have taken trips abroad may instead choose to take relatively inexpensive domestic camping mini-breaks. Similar to the conditions at the start of the period, low consumer confidence may help to sustain the staycation trend”. So this insight is quite relevant to me. I didn’t go caravanning this year, but I spent a weekend in a campsite at a Jazz Festival and can imagine other more official campsites across the country benefitting from this type of holiday.

The last few years I have planned my holidays at least six months in advance to get the best deals possible as the flights tend to cost higher closer to the time of travel. Most of the time, like all families with children at school, we have little choice and flexibility and so must travel in the peak inflated priced holiday periods like everybody else! However, for children with working parents it is the time of year that you can actually have some quality time to relax and spend with the family.

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I haven’t travelled extensively due the cost and family commitments. However, I seem to have travel in my DNA as a fourth generation Indian immigrant to the West Indies. There are some places I have scratched off my list, but there is still a long imaginary bucket list of places I would like to visit one day. For example, my bucket lists contains India. Being of Indian heritage, I would like to visit India in the future but the cost for a family will be horrendous and I certainly don’t want to go on my own. I would also like to go to the Far East to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and other parts of the world such as Africa, Brasil, Peru, Mexico, San Francisco, and other Caribbean islands. The list can really go on, and on. I know that air travel is not good for the environment and wish that there were other environmentally friendly modes of transport that were quicker and cheaper. There is no real chance of me going to all the countries I would like to visit in the near future anyway, so hopefully I can ‘be chilled’ about my carbon footprint for now.

Two roads diverged into a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled

– Robert Frost

Generally, I don’t follow my bucket list of places to visit. I honestly don’t think my list will ever be finite, as I love learning and seeing new parts of this beautiful, interesting and natural world. My friend Barry blogged here and just came back from Antarctica. It sounded so very different from what I am used to – and so I wish I could visit there one day. My friends, Anna and Pete, also have had an amazing holiday this year in Japan and there too is on my bucket list. I have an aunt, Sandra, in Canada who has travelled extensively and I love how she uses Facebook to share her stories and enthusiasm for travel, culture and the people she meets. My neighbour, Bob, sent me a photo of his happy holiday in Rhodes just a few days ago. Social media has all the temptation for aspiring to visit places…or even for you to remain at home and see the world. It’s a win win for exploring the Earth! One of my post popular blog posts since I started this blog was my trip to New York City in 2016. One relative said that my photos inspired them to take a trip to New York that same year.

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My neighbour sent me his holiday view from his balcony in Rhodes …Wishful thinking.

Mintel’s Consumer Confidence Finance Tracker from April 2017 found that long holidays, short breaks and days out all features in the top 10 things people spend their disposable income on. Mintel reports that “despite the Brexit vote and the drop in the value of the pound, consumers have shown their strong appetite for oversees holidays. Mintel estimates that overseas trips grew by 5% to 44.3 million in 2016”. The barriers and bottom line to seeing all those places is the cost of travel, which is expensive. You also have to consider the time required away from a full time job, family commitments, and possibly travel restrictments such as travel visas and your safety. One can still dream about travelling to new places though. Travel is always good for new experiences, ideas, creativity and culture. We also come away understanding the places and people that we have visited.

Should I stay or go? …Well, this year I stayed in England. I went last week for a few days to Derbyshire for a break. This meant that I avoided the busy drive to an airport, checking-in procedures, the lounging, duty free temptations and general busyness of an airport. My drive was just under three hours to my destination. I was quite excited as I had been told by friends and family that the countryside in the Peak District was beautiful. There are also nice restaurants in Derbyshire and the surrounding areas – all in the mix with international and local cuisine.

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The two main attractions I visited were stately homes – Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall. The drives to both locations were very scenic through parts of the National Forest, villages, rivers and winding roads with the undulating hills of the Derbyshire countryside.

Chatsworth House is spectacular and I had heard so much about it. I love the drive to the house with the sheep resting in the shade of the trees and grazing on the grass on a sunny summer’s morning during our recent heatwave. The house’s exterior itself has a magical simplicity in its shape and design. I particularly liked the garden and all its difference features such as The Cascade, the 100 steps to the maze, the rock garden, the lilies, grotto etc. There were so many vistas to take it all in, and I loved the beautiful plants and trees. It must be nice in winter but it certainly was splendid in the heart of summer with the sheep baa-ing closeby, the butterflies fluttering on plants, and the lovely birdsong. I intend to visit the garden again one day. Touch wood!

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The interior of the house was also interesting and it was nice too that the current owner, the Duke of Devonshire and family, are still involved in the house’s upkeep. I liked the mix of modern and older art pieces in the collection. It is always interesting to see how other people live regardless of wealth or social class – and this house obviously had historic significance. The actors impersonating the past head gardener, Joseph Paxton, told us about the evening that Queen Victoria visited the maze garden adorned in a candlelit atmosphere. This must have been something to see! They still host amazing events at Chatsworth House throughout the year.

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As a special treat, I also had afternoon tea served on Wedgewood China. I was even inspired to try one of the sweet puddings on my return to London a few days after. Chatsworth House is beautiful for indulgence in a beautiful setting and was really interesting for creative ideas too – be it gardening, writing novels, poems, painting, photography, music and most of all… period dramas films! It has been the setting for programmes such as Pride and Prejudice’. The shop was also full of lovely tokens and souvenirs.

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The next day was just as exciting at Haddon Hall, Bakewell. I loved the medieval features and the lived-in feel and evidence of the house’s history – from the wooden kitchen surfaces, to the medieval steps, courtyard and banquet hall. I also liked the vista over the rolling hills and countryside from the windows in the house.

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Again, the garden was amazing too and I am hoping that I can visit Haddon Hall again! I loved the planting of some of my favourite plants, the view from the garden terraces, which gave the garden a varied dimension from the river to the hill. The house was something out of a storybook with the stream and medieval setting. Places like this brings the past alive and sends our imagination into overdrive! I managed to squeeze in a nice pub lunch in nearby Bakewell (famous for it’s Bakewell tart) too.

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Travelling is my drug of choice

– quote shared by my well-travelled Aunt.

This was a short break in an extraordinarily warm summer in England. I hope to visit a couple more places such as Southwold and Norwich this year. I may even visit Paris and Italy for very short breaks too. Trinidad will always be home for me to visit. In 2019, I am hoping to visit Greece. In the meantime, I will try to save some money, use the Internet to see the place I haven’t been and keep dreaming of nice and interesting places I would like to visit…one day.

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