Following my May Bank Holiday Snowdon ascent, my training schedule has recently ramped up a gear in preparation my first international trek in September. On top of my twice weekly-runs and daily lunch break stair climbing antics, I decided it was time to head for the hills again, this time, on a mini break to the Lake District. With walking poles and Compeed plasters at the ready, (lessons learnt from last time), I set off from work last Friday lunchtime to explore Britain’s largest hiking playground.
With the annual summer holiday exodus about to hit offices, those left behind to pick up the pieces can still escape to a weekend of fun and freedom at one of many Great British Summer Festivals. Proving there’s so much more to summertime frolics than Glastonbury, we’ve compiled a list of the most eclectic festivals taking place across the British Isles this summer. From hot air ballooning to oyster shucking, there’s a festival to suit everyone – some even with luxury toilets.
With only four months to go (yikes) until my Atlas Mountain trek, I decided to head for the hills this May bank holiday weekend to do my first ever mountain climb. Equipped with compeed plasters, gloves, scarves and a mountain of cereal bars, I left my desk at lunchtime on Friday to join thirteen other intrepid Londoners destined for Mount Snowdon in the Welsh outback.
After a stressful working week, what could be more soothing than the thought of slipping away to your very own country retreat. But before most of us have googled weekend breaks in the Cotswolds, visions of a grid-locked M25 sends us scurrying home for a glass of wine instead. Cooped up in concrete for another weekend, few realise that only twelve miles from central London lies a fairy tale Manor house nestled in 40 acres of award-winning gardens and woodlands. (leave a comment below for a chance to win a stay at the Grim’s Dyke hotel)
“Turn left just past Jesus,” instructed the reception manager. Grabbing my bag with a grin, I wondered what other surprises lay in store for me during my first night in a Nunnery. Seeking a weekend of calm and serenity far from the corporate pressure cooker, I was delighted to accept an invitation to the grand opening of Stanbrook Abbey in rural Worcestershire.
As daylight commutes, lunch breaks al-fresco and post-work Pimms make a welcome return, we’ve finally made it through winter. But while we’re dusting off our sandals down south, in the harsher Scottish climes where winters are frequently a feat of endurance, spring is celebrated with far more pomp and ceremony. Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Festival is a mystical night of Pagan pageantry crammed with stirring twilight creatures, fire dancers, flame throwers and giant, glowing toadstools.
Driven by never-ending goals in our nine-to-five lives, all too often the things we dream of achieving in our free time get relegated to bucket lists of wishful thinking. Five years ago, I visited Marrakesh on a mini break and was entranced by the distant white peaks of the Atlas Mountains. From the roof terrace of my riad, I vowed to explore them one day. But once back home, doubts crept in and the dream became as distant as the snowy mountain peaks. But this year something changed.
Known for Temple Bar, Guinness and plentiful craic, Dublin’s a city break destination guaranteed to shake off the shackles of corporate life. But like the best-loved books, don’t judge it by its cover alone. Home to Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, Dublin’s literary credentials are second to none. From the Book of Kells to the world-famous Ulysses, the city’s steeped in literary history. If you’re looking for a mini break with a little more depth, now’s the time to delve into the pages of a well-worn classic.
Shivering in Siberian temperatures this week, warmer climes are calling. With a whole new year of annual leave possibilities awaiting, what will be top of the mini breaks in 2015? With a new direct flight route from London in May, my money’s on Essaouira on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. Blissfully free from the snake charmers and hard-sell henna ladies of neighbouring Marrakech, Essaouira offers a bohemian costal sanctuary where artists and musicians rub along peacefully with fishermen and the world’s loftiest goats.
With Oktoberfest now a distant memory, Germany’s flavour of the month again as the Christmas market season gets into full swing. Boasting sixteen markets, Hamburg’s festive cheer is guaranteed to warm the cockles long after the haze of the office Christmas party. If you still have a few days leave left before the New Year, grab a gluhwein and delve into Germany’s most diverse festive markets on a mini break to Hamburg.