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There's lots to see and do across the UK

OK, so you don’t get to meet the man in person, but it’s still a great offer. The two Michelin-starred restaurant at Sketch in Mayfair is offering a meal deal that would put most eateries to shame: a three course Gourmet lunch in the Lecture


 

Room & Library and an exhibition ticket for Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy of Arts for £49.

​It’s an ongoing deal for any of the major exhibitions at the Royal Academy. My father and I make an annual pilgrimage to the RA for the Summer Exhibition, which my dad, an artist, loves. I am not a huge fan of the Summer Exhibition but I am very fond of my father and enjoy our little ritual. I don’t enjoy the food, though: lunch at the Royal Academy is way too much like eating in a school canteen for me.

So when I heard about Sketch’s deal, I suggested it to my father who is no aesthete. He may love art, but he is also immensely practical and, as an economist, has a key eye for finance. When I sent him the details, he responded: ‘I’m not sure it’s such a goo...

The award-winning Thurlestone is something very special. Tucked away in a little corner of South Devon on a narrow winding road, it is an adventure to get there. I travelled down by train to Salcombe and got a cab from the station, which is something I would recommend, as you really don’t need a car when you are there.

With its own excellent restaurant, lovely little 16th-century English pub, deservedly popular kids club and 19-acres of exquisite grounds, along with a beautiful stretch of beach, high quality golf course on its doorstep, the Thurlestone really does have it all. I got the feeling that if I did manage to find something to complain about, that it would be dealt with immediately and with real attention. It is no surprise then to find out that a staggering two thirds of guests at the Thurlestone have been here before.

​When I was at the high quality, family run hotel, the guests were a wonderful, happy mix of grandparents, middle-aged couples and young children. With such a va...

It’s a 110 years ago since Beatrix Potter penned her tales, including the one about the most famous naughty rabbit in the world, and the stories are still as popular as ever with all generations. I took my not so naughty little boy on a very special pilgrimage to the Lake District to mark this important anniversary, introduce him to one of my favourite characters from my childhood and discover a very special hotel.

Emma Thompson’s book, The Further Tales of Peter Rabbit, based on the famous character created by Beatrix Potter, has been recently published.  And to mark it, the Lakeside Hotel and Spa has launched a special Beatrix Potter themed package.

​The package offers families the opportunity to visit some of the places that inspired Beatrix Potter to write her books, including Hill Top House – the former home of the famous author, Beatrix Potter Gallery –  a local gallery in the town of

Hawkshead and Wray Castle – opened this summer to the public for the first time in years.

The L...

Wicked’ pronounced one teenage bystander, appropriately enough about my camper van from Wicked Campers. ‘Is that you?’ a middle age woman asked, rather flatteringly, pointing at the life-size version of Tank Girl on the side of the van. My toddler loves her and the vehicle, begging me daily to get in ‘Tank Girl’ simply to go to a car park.

​In the UK we tend to think of campervanning either as a dull pursuit of retirees or as something that only dirty backpackers do as a way of getting around big countries such as Australia. Wicked Campers (www.wickedcampers.co.uk) is unusual for a rental company in that it lets you take its vans anywhere in Europe, but I was happy to stay in this country, pottering around within a couple hour radius of London with my little one.

Our van would be a good choice for an extended family as it includes a two-man tent and sleeps three inside. For 730 pounds for ten days, it is pretty good value, especially when you consider it includes your accommodation (alth...

Normally no fan of theme parks, Jane Egginton checks into the Legoland Resort and is surprised to find herself reluctant to check out.

Few grown-ups are fond of theme parks, but Legoland is a bit different, especially if you are considering amusement across the generations. Part of Lego’s magic is its perennial appeal – who hasn’t played with those legendary bricks at some time in their life? Even if you are not an AFOL (Adult Fan Of Lego), the chances are you will have some fond memories of this world famous brick. And Legoland in Windsor now has a hotel, which means adults can check in with their kids or grandchildren and take the whole thing at a leisurely pace.

I was as excited as my two year old when we checked into reception with his granny, feeling a tingle of excitement that we had made it to this much recommended resort. Check in was smooth: us adults appreciated the helpful staff who offered to take our bags as soon as our room became available (check in is not until 3pm, but y...

A Valentine Experience with Heart and Soul

Nab a table at Nobu Hotel’s new secret supper bar Nami for an intimate Valentine’s Day date. By Judith Baker & Jane Egginton

The Nobu Hotel in London’s creative hub Shoreditch has already caused a stir with its striking architectural design. Now it is putting itself on the map as a romantic destination with an innovative twist.

Creep downstairs to Nobu’s lower ground floor to find a hidden gem. Nobu has transformed its bar area into Nami, a tapas style bar serving distinctive cocktails and Japanese street food. With its discreet lighting, comfortable seating and delicious small bites, this is a perfect, imaginative venue for a Valentine’s Day supper.

Nami has contemporary Japanese animated art projected on the walls which creates an unusual and relaxing space. There is a speakeasy vibe to the bar with its moody lighting and private atmosphere ideal for secret assignations and quiet conversation.

The menu is surprising too. A selection of small dish...

Denbies Wine Estate is a  delightful  265 acre vineyard in an area of Outstanding Beauty which has been producing wines since 1986 and as English wines finally receive the recognition they deserve, the family owners have this year opened England’s first vineyard hotel. 

Overlooking the vineyard the 17 room Denbies Vineyard  hotel has a charm that is both English country house and  contemporary  in style. There is a lovely conservatory restaurant and two pretty cabanas in the grounds. We find ourselves in the cabanas for wine tasting and pairing later that day, sampling some of the estate’s finest as the sun goes down over the surrey hills. Our appetite for both food and wine had been whetted earlier as we enjoyed a tour of the vineyard with the resident wine expert. Tours can be made of the vineyard and winery as well as visits to the Estate’s deli and farm shop.

In line with Denbies’ commitment to establish best practice in green-tourism, the new hotel has been...

Digby Fine English Tasting Room, Arundel

As English Wine Week kicks off (May 25th -June 2nd) we raise a glass in Arundel at Digby Fine English's Tasting Room

England’s first negociant ( a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and sells them under their own name) Digby Fine English  has opened its Fine English tasting Room in Arundel, West Sussex just steps away from the historic castle and a few minutes from where the wine is made. The elegant room is overseen by the brand’s namesake Sir Kenelm Digby, who is credited with inventing the modern wine bottle in 1630. Guests can enjoy the tasting counter or the more exclusive members’ room.

Digby blends grapes grown in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and Dorset.

www.digby-fine-english.com

I am in LochAline which overlooks the Sound of Mull – it is a small place with one shop, one hotel and a social club but it turns out to be the ideal base to explore the enchanting Isle of Mull. Mull is steeped in legend and as well as the stag party there are eagles to spot while scuba divers can explore shipwrecks with the dive centre here.

Mull

Regular ferries reach Mull from LochAline to Fishnish from where a bus takes travellers to Tobermory.  There is also a ferry to Tobermory from Drimnin, 12 miles from LochAline. But check times before you venture out, as public transport here is not always 100% reliable. Buses operate on a ‘hail and ride’ basis. Or take the ferry from the mainland town of Oban to Craignure

What’s the story Tobermory – The pretty town of Tobermory is the capital of Mull, located on the northeastern part of the island. But this is not a capital with bright lights and nightlife – Tobermory has  population of 700 and its quiet streets are filled with colourful cottag...

Lumiere lights up Hackney 

'Chatsworth Road is raw and diverse. I love it around here', declares Lumiere, owner of the local juice bar which shares his name. 'It’s a real community, which is something quite special in London, but it’s not too in your face: it’s just right.' Lumiere is a big fan of villa holidays but Chatsworth Road is his favourite place in the world. All of the juices on offer are named after local streets. Berry Blurton is made up of strawberry, peach, papaya and blueberries while a Clifden Cherry is a startling combination of cherry, strawberry, banana and mint. All around are heart shaped signs. 'I opened this place because I wanted to give something back.' It is hard to define: yes, it’s a juice bar with organic elements, not least the reclaimed tree trunks outside, but there is velour wallpaper on the walls, smooth jazz playing in the background, trickling from water features and the sound of the sea can be heard when you open the toilet door. There is even a VIP...

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