Friday, 24 August 2012

Things To Do On A British Break...

...So, you're on holiday, you've got spending money but you don't want to go mad? Often, especially in resorts, everything seems to cost and it soon adds up. Now I am not one to pinch the pennies on holiday, but I like to spend on things I'll really enjoy (a nice meal or a particular day out), rather than ending the day with a 'meh, got a bit ripped off' feeling. I will most definitely go for luxury or even full blown tourist tack some days (we did the full Wookey Hole, natch) but often I enjoy the simpler things. Here are some of my favourite British holiday activities, and why I feel they represent good value.

This view; less than 20 min walk from the city centre.

1) Walk

There really is no better way to get to know an area (for free) than walking. You could do full-day rambles, but a gentle stroll requiring everyday flat shoes is equally enjoyable - take a camera, a pick-nick or just know where the pub is at the end! There's no need to be a superb map-reader (although hem-hem, I was top of my class at Geography I will have you know) ... using the internet, free walking guides are plentiful. We started with this free selection printed from Black Dog- it's a fab one for Wells. If you are visiting a well-known spot, local libraries may have a guide containing walks for loan - and of course, at the local tourist information office free leaflets and cheap guides (£0.50-£3 in my experience) abound.

The famous Cathedral

So much detail on every building.

One of my favourite elements to Wells was that the small size of the city meant you could have a country walk and an historical city walk in under an hour and a half!

2) Charity Shops, Local Shops, 'Pound' Shops...

Forget the National Trust pricy shops. The chazzas, as ever, are where it's at. Often they'll have different brands or types of bargain depending on location (for example, with Clarks Village so near, we found a lot of brands in Street's charity shops) and the hunt is always much more fun than going round a bland official souvenir shop. And if you want souvenirs, why not hunt around the local 'pound' shop equivalents for some really old school stuff? You know the ones, they sell everything from brooms to dog baskets to biscuits and usually have 'superstore' in the name. Yep, I know full well I have described pretty much exactly what I do the rest of the year, but on holibobs. Oh well, it works.

3) Read A Good Book

Books are not just for beach holidays. We had a lovely secluded garden in which to read, but why not take advantage of somewhere with a fabulous view and benches - a book and (if it's noisy) some headphones and it's a lovely relaxing hour or two. His Lordship adds 'and a pipe' to this.

Chalice Well, a perfect spot to read something mysterious and meaningful.

Don't forget to support your local library and charity shops when buying books (or getting rid of your old ones).

4) Obscure Museums

This machine was used to make cider brandy.

Perhaps not the famous £6-to-get-in Abbeys or palaces or witchy-holes (although a trip to a 'showstopper' place is always great fun) - I mean the funny little obscure museums. Often they are free or a few pounds to get in, and the atmosphere is as unusual as the exhibits are. We visited the 'Rural Life Museum', Cider Museums (with tasting of course!), Cheese making and the Penny Arcade Museum at Wookey Hole. As you know I am a real fan of obscure museums, and cannot resist them when out and about...

5) Pubs

Know your pubs! Or rather, when to go to each sort. They all have their times and purposes (from tacky hen-night pier pubs to ale specialists in the country to music to gastro...). A quick snoop around on the first night can save time and money and more importantly facilitate fun!

Pathetically fake 'action' shot of me walking into pub.

For example, in Wells, The Swan hotel has undoubtably the best view. It is also rather expensive. The ideal place for starting the evening with a small drink, our one day of warm sunshine and a seat outside. Up the high street there are several lively and busy pubs- good 'all rounders' (our favourite was The City Arms, the ex-prison! Seriously delicious and gigantic dinners and six different ales). Further off the main streets, pubs like The Sun, The Globe - with really superb steaks -  and The Fountain do excellent ales, ciders and foods but are naturally quiet.

Seriously good food (and beers) here!
Another top tip is to keep eyes out for special nights in restaurants and pubs (for example steak night, or two meals for £12). We didn't want to self-cater every evening, and the different nights on offer in even such a small city were a great way to try a variety of places.

Do you splurge or save on holiday? What will you save on and what will you spend on? And what are your tips..?


  1. Great tips! Youe little reading hang-out is gorgeous. It's been 20 years since I holidayed in the UK but look out people of the Lake District, Krista and I are off to get you very soon! xxx

  2. completely agree you don't need to spend a fortune, we had brilliant long (killer) walks every day on our holibobs and each was a unique adventure, we also tried a couple of pubs in the name of research and found one that we liked more so hung out there on a few occasions in the week.

    I get quite excited at charity shops, so this for me is always a bonus!

  3. These are some really great tips especially the obscure museums part. I'd like to find some when I'm there for sure! Your hair is looking really pretty too! I like to save as much as I can when I travel, I'm kinda frugal like that. The things I will splurge on are usually food and booze BUT I always am happy to eat and drink cheap delicious food and booze too. I have been known to have a weakness for clothes and jewelry so when traveling if I find something I like I will splurge there.

  4. Really enjoyed this post and there were plenty of good tips within it. I love the photo of you as well, fake walking and all!

  5. I was nodding at each stage of your suggestions. Yes - walk/read/visit obscure places or museums/hunt out charity shops...all perfect holiday activity fodder. I also like to find wild water to swim in (so long as the rivers and lakes are not like they've been this summer after all the flooding) and cafes that sell proper home made cake.


Let me know what you think!