Scotland’s vast natural heritage is a great reason to visit Britain. The country’s gardens offer a delightful opportunity to indulge your senses and explore the very best of Britain’s natural scenery. Take a look at some of the finest Scottish gardens.


Discover more Scottish and English Gardens from VisitBritain

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Drummond Castle Gardens

These gardens combine to perfection stunning Renaissance architecture with superb scenery. This Perthshire venue dates from the mid-18th century, and the garden’s layout and gorgeous details will surely transport visitors to the stately glamour of a bygone area.

Monteviot Gardens

Located in Jedburgh, a historic market town south of Edinburgh, the Monteviot Gardens are the ideal place to disconnect from the busy pace of daily life. Here you can stroll around wonderful rose, herb, river, and water gardens, which are connected to each other through lovely ponds and bridges. Don’t miss the Monteviot’s arboretum and the gardens’ top terrace.

Rocheid Garden

Rocheid is a hidden and relaxing gem in the heart of cosmopolitan Edinburgh. This garden features gorgeous exotic plants and flowers that gather gracefully around a crystal-clear natural pond. The result is a beautiful collage of bright colours that never fail to make an impression on visitors.

Brockhole Gardens

Although the Lake District is not part of Scotland, a trip to this wonderful part of Cumbria is well worth the detour if only to visit the splendid Brockhole Gardens. Located right next to Windermere Lake, these gardens feature 30 acres of terraced land that has been beautifully landscaped to bring out the best of this stunning area. For the best views of these gardens, go on the exciting tree-top trek at Brockhole.


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James Keogh gives us his top tips for using the London Underground and how to survive it like a local.

It is just past noon on an unusually sunny Saturday in Brixton, most pleasant given this otherwise bitterly cold month. As a Brixton local I must say there is no place quite like the melting-pot of Lambeth and I can’t help but smile to myself as I walk to the tube.

The tube is a different world to yesterday, the buzz and stuffiness of the working week has given way to more leisurely colonies of tourists and families with young children all eager to take in popular and “hidden” parts of the city and indeed today I shall join them.

This more leisurely commute may be more chilled out but why do all the tourists seem unaware of the Tube etiquette?

We have many nuances of ‘Great British etiquette’ and the Tube specifically has quite a collection of quirks. Although most of these things can be found signposted around, some are still unwritten rules and either way it is easy to see how tourists or first-timers could get caught out and face the British cold shoulder. So, with this in mind, I have decided to collect all the do’s and dont’s into one place for those who are yet to travel London’s Underground:



As discussed you may or may not feel the wrath of your fellow travellers, mostly dependent on  whether it’s rush hour, but ending up the wrong side of the tracks will always attract some frosty  attention. In general watch out when travelling with large pieces of luggage at peak times for fear of  tripping up junior city boys as they dart to-and-fro late for a meeting!

rules of the underground


…. the announcement rings. This is usually played over the loudspeakers on most platforms but  once at South Kensington I saw a Scandanavian man physically held back for trying to go against  the system! I have heard that many other European countries do not follow the same custom but be damned sure … we Brits take it quite seriously.


This is surely followed globally as just an obvious piece of goodwill and respect but on many  occasions in London I have seen other passengers picking on the closest youth to reprimand them for their sloppy manners. However, this particular etiquette can prove quite tricky as some passengers may take offence at being labelled “in need”. For example, I once offered my seat to quite a glamorous and well-spoken elderly lady one evening but she declined and added rather dryly, “My dear, If I was not fit for the underground I would have taken a cab.” Quite funny really and a fair point, nevertheless it took the air out of my good deed and left me feeling a bit deflated.


No observation on British etiquette would be complete without highlighting the importance of  queueing. Whether it be for the oyster machines, getting on the carriages or just to get through the  barriers you will notice the crowd start aligning as if shuffled up by invisible channels. At this point  beware the red light! Whether you haven’t got enough money on your Oyster or have double  touched you will experience what it is to interrupt ’the Great Flow’. Check first and get comfortable  with The Way of ‘The Queue’.


Especially true during rush hour. It is a common thought shared amongst commuters that those who stop their motion, perhaps to consult the Underground map or read signs either immediately after leaving trains or on route to the  platform will inevitably end up with someone treading on their heels proceeded by a flustered and speedy getaway from the perpetrator. The Londoner’s hit-and-run method of most encounters on the tube is perhaps epitomised by this act. The answer is to keep moving, even if it means proceeding slowly one must be in motion at all times.


In continuing with the theme of movement it must be made clear that at peak times a failure to  move down the platform or especially the carriages will certainly provoke vocal backlash. Remember – all people want to do at 8am or 5pm is get to work or get home and you WILL NOT delay this process for them, even though trains tend to run every minute or so!


Although the point will almost never be raised by fellow passengers it is of agitation to most when other travellers are listening to loud music or having loud conversation. I think this is perhaps to do with the fact that such noises exist in such close confinement and with the inability to escape this the  lack of control quickly gathers a repressed tension throughout the carriage. People may look at each other as if to say, “Are you hearing that too?!!” but nobody makes a sound – You can feel the tension  being lifted as sed ‘loud’ passenger leaves the carriage. This leads onto another point – there is no spontaneous socialisation on the tube. Or eye contact. Never.

The only time I have ever struck up a conversation on the tube was when I was coming home from giving a ukelele lesson and for the sheer novelty of my instrument I fell into conversation with a lovely American lady and her daughter, it was  such a great experience and whats more it was hilarious seeing the look on other people’s faces, it was almost like we were plotting to blow up parliament or something!

Note: interestingly this is not the same when using the trains. I have met many awesome people on journeys overground. Perhaps there is something about travelling underground that makes people particularly anti-social?


Now, I am a musician myself and – although I have never obtained one of the legitimate ‘busking licences’ – I have tried my luck once or twice setting up on the branded pitches and have always managed to hold my spot for an hour or so before someone notices. From this experience it is my whole-hearted conclusion that only tourists and foreigners throw money into the hat. The Londoner when offered a chance to escape giving will always oblige. At this point I would like to thank visitors to London for keeping buskers afloat, please don’t act like a Londoner on this occasion, you will never provoke negative attention and hopefully will encourage others to do the same.

So there you have it, a few pointers for successfully navigating your trip on the underground without causing too much offence. I would like to conclude with a little piece of advice for those of you, like me, who see their journey on the tube as a time to get a bit of reading done. Go for poetry or magazines rather than books or newspapers. Poetry is usually short and you can sink your teeth into a piece even between neighbouring stations and magazines have short articles like newspapers but they don’t open out as far as the Standard, Metro or worse still a Broadsheet. God forbid that you might infringe further on someone’s personal space anymore than your mere existence!

They always say, “Life is about the journey, not the destination,” and I am a believer that adventures on the London Underground breed memorable journeys in one way or another.


I first visited Rome in my final year at university, a birthday present from my wonderful sister. We set off with our friend and all agreed that Rome was going to be an entirely stress-free experience. We were not going to budget; we were going to enjoy every moment.

This cavalier attitude, while wonderful during the three days I stayed in the aptly named ‘eternal city’, seemed somewhat reckless when I spent the remainder of the semester living on cereal and tinned soup. It is at this point you realize that throwing money about as if it were going out of fashion is, in fact, a very ill advised thing to do and that, as much as you would like it to be the case, you are not Princess Ann from Roman Holiday.

On a brighter note, I have returned to Rome since and managed to do so without devastating my bank balance.  So here is my advice on how to save money in one of Europe’s most stunning and expensive cities:


It is easy to find a cheap flight to Rome (you can get a return from Stansted, London from only £53); it is also easy to not spend much on travel once you are there. On my first trip we took a taxi from the airport at a fixed price of €30.

For a much cheaper alternative take a bus from Ciampino Airport to the underground station ‘Anagnini’ (€1,20). Then get the metro for €1 to whichever station is closest to where you’re staying.

Once you arrive, you’ll find that Rome really isn’t that big a place, so it’s easy to plan your route each morning and travel around on foot.


On my first trip we stayed in a lovely apartment but this is because my sister is, as previously mentioned, an awesome person.

On my second trip I stayed at Hotel Beautiful Hostel, about a minute away from the Termini station. You can get a room here from €30 to €60 depending on the time of year.

For a cheaper options, it is well worth looking at Airbnb  where you can find a room in Rome for as little as €10 a night if you don’t mind sharing!


This was, by far, the biggest expense of my first trip to Rome. We ate out every night and often during the day. We bought coffee and gelato and ordered way too much wine. On the second trip, we went to a grocery shop near Termini station on the first day and ended up saving a lot of money (this obviously didn’t include gelato, which remained as much a feature of my second trip).

If you do want to eat out be sure to check the menu first and never just walk into a café and order over the counter. Prices tend to be astronomical just outside of landmarks, as we discovered when my sister unwittingly ordered a ten euro glass of orange juice outside of the Coliseum.

If you want to eat out, it’s advantageous to ask the locals. We were recommended two great places to eat:  Sfizio Pizza near Termini station (around €8 per head); and Picculo Buco, a family run restaurant near the Trevi Fountain (this cost about €10 per head).

Photo Source:
Photo Source:

Tour Guides

Whenever you approach an important landmark you will be bombarded with tour guides. We went on two tours on my first trip to Rome: one of the Vatican City, which was brilliant; one of the Coliseum and the Ancient City, which was not. The latter literally consisted of us paying someone to take us inside and say ‘this is where gladiators used to fight… feel free to go take some photos of yourself posing as gladiators and meet me by the pillar in half an hour’.  To top it all off we went to the wrong pillar and lost our guide, who was carrying our tickets to the Ancient City (this was, admittedly, our own fault).

For those on a budget, there is a great organization that offers free walking tours in Rome. These are licensed and expert tour guides who will take you around the city for free (they do rely on tips but this is still a cheaper alternative).

Budget for Rome

So to summarize, here is a rough budget for a trip to Rome:

Flights: £53 plus €6 to and from the airport

Accommodation: €10 to €30 a night

Groceries: They came to roughly €10, which included packed lunches.

Restaurants: If you want to eat out, you can do so for €5- €15 per head. Save money by making a packed lunch during the day and remember there are water fountains to drink from all around the city.

Entry fees: There are plenty of things to see in Rome that don’t cost a cent, but, on both trips, we agreed to allow about €10 per day.

Nights out: Agree on a budget beforehand and stick to it. Avoid tourist bars, which are always very expensive- drink with the locals!

Gelato: No budget.

 Do you have any tips for travelling on a budget in Rome? If you do, let us know in the comments below!





shutterstock_92655643London is one of the most interesting and exciting cities. It has something for everyone of all ages and the city’s attractions are legendary. Like most capital cities there are must-see attractions that visitors will not want to miss. London also has excellent nightlife, with superb restaurants, cultural events, theatre performances, live music, legendary clubs and much more and one of the best ways to get a great sample of what it has to offer is a hop on hop off London bus…

London Zoo

One of the most popular London attractions is London Zoo, which is a fantastic day out for all the family. This famous zoo is the first scientific zoo in the world, and has played a major part in the study and conversation of animals since it opened in 1847. Today the zoo houses over 755 animal species, making it the largest zoo in the UK. A visit to the zoo at Regents Park is one of the most memorable days out for visitors to London.

Tower of London

Another must-see for visitors to London is the Tower of London. This beautiful fortress is situated on the north bank of the Thames. It was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1078, shortly after the Norman conquest of England. The Tower of London is remarkably well preserved and contains many fascinating artefacts, including the Crown Jewels. During the 17th and 18th centuries it was used as a prison, and the monarchs of the time would send undesirables “to the Tower” where they would be tortured and punished. Despite its rather macabre history the building is very beautiful with the original interior and makes for a fascinating day out. Do not forget to chat to the friendly Beefeaters that guard the gates!

Changing of the Guard

No trip to London is complete without seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is home to Queen Elizabeth II and is a beautiful building. The changing of the guard is a spectacular sight and a great way to observe Britain’s pomp and glory. The changing of the guard occurs every other day at the palace.

Museums and Galleries

London also has some of the world’s best museums and art galleries. The Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum have breathtaking artefacts. The V&A is dedicated to the history of art and design, and the British Museum is dedicated to human history. Both museums contain artefacts from ancient times, and the British Museum has vast halls with reconstructed ancient buildings and casts from ancient archaeological sites. Other famous London museums include the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, and a visit to the Tate Modern is essential for a contemporary art fix!

The Globe

Other major attractions include the Shakespeare Globe Theatre on the south bank, St Paul’s Cathedral, Windsor Castle, the Churchill War Rooms and much more. You can ensure that you get to see all the best attractions in London by joining a sightseeing tour. This will include a guide so you will understand more about the attractions you visit. If you prefer to go it alone then you can easily pick up a London Map that is specifically designed for tourists, which will help you to navigate the city with ease.

They say good things come in small packages, and those seeking for the proof to support the claim need look no further than the lovely Mediterranean island of Menorca. Far smaller and less developed than its Balearic sibling Majorca, this Spanish island is one of Europe’s real hidden gems.

So why come here with the bigger Balearic island lying just across the water? Well for one thing, whilst Majorca may have stolen the crowds, the reputation and Franco’s construction budget in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Menorca has been left with something far rarer and more valuable: its purity.


Get Back To Nature

Boasting places of extreme natural beauty such as the Parc Natural S’Albufera d’es Grau wetlands and a rich biodiversity notable thanks to the island’s abundance of flowering plants, birds and butterflies, this really is a Mediterranean Eden. Menorca is practically unique in its region in offering the opportunity to discover miles upon miles of secluded, if not deserted beach, which for some travellers represents adequate reason to book a ticket in itself. If you’re looking for sun-kissed bliss in an unspoilt location with a strong tourist infrastructure, you couldn’t do better than look into some of the options available for Menorca holidays.

Menorca has all the wonderful scenery, flora and fauna you could possibly hope to see in any holiday destination, but that’s not all. The island also bursts with an alluring human presence, past and present that really brings its beautiful environment to life.

The locals of this so called ‘Gem of the Balearics’ love nothing more than a good fiesta, making the summer months your optimum period to plan a visit to Minorca. Fiesta season runs (intermittently) from late June until late September – be sure to check dates carefully with your tour operator or a reputable online source before booking. Highlights of the fiesta calendar include the stirring ‘L’ithica’ full moon pageant (August 6-8) and The ‘Festes de Sant Joan’ – watch out for a burly local man carrying a grown sheep through the streets at this one!


A Quiet Drink?!

Menorca is not famous as a party island in the ‘UV foam party/throwing up everywhere’ sense, and to many, that’s exactly where its appeal lies. There’s ample provision however, for a spot of cultured fun-seeking; traditional singing and dancing, and drinking Pomada, a traditional mixture of gin and bitter lemon – phew!

This really is the Mediterranean island destination for grown ups – absolutely not dull in any way as some would like to think us adults are, but mature, tasteful and truly rewarding. People have settled here since prehistoric times as the island’s extant megalithic structures attest, and within its traditions it’s not hard to see a strong link back to the distant, distant past. To experience a taste of how the Menorcans have enjoyed unwinding over the centuries, waste no time in booking yourself a flight and setting out for this vibrant paradise.


Over in the UK, the Brits love their caravan holidays. Well it turns out that backpacking and caravanning have more in common than you think!


  • We both love extended travel
  • We share a love for the great outdoors
  • We love the freedom to hop from one place to another
  • We both like a bargain when it comes to accommodation
  • I’m pretty sure we all love falling asleep in a bed, some more than we care to admit
  • Not sure we understand the concept of packing lightly!


With so many caravan sites to choose from in the UK, it is sometimes a struggle to pick out your destination to pitch up. I’ve selected some of the best sites in the UK, offering you a range of events to keep you busy on your travels, or if it’s a quiet weekend away is what you fancy, you just need to know where to look! I’ve narrowed it down by featuring a range of different places around the country, so why not get a taste for them all and join the club!

If this will be your first caravan trip and you need help planning it there is a lot caravanning discussion over at! Don’t forget, whether you’re new to caravanning or a seasoned caravanner, you need some kind of caravan insurance, definitely check out the Caravan Club website for this.


Low Wray – Cumbria 

Perfect for gentle-walkers, pop on your hiking boots as you stroll by Wray Castle, with views of the forestry to accompany you. No need to take the car out, off-road biking, walking and water-sports are all on offer in short distance to keep you busy. Good value for money at £8-10 per night.


Bay View Farm – Cornwall

No problem here if the sea is your thing, listen out as you hear the waves crash together. Literally, a five-minute walk separates you from the Cornish coastal path overlooking Looe Bay. Looking at about £10-20 a night.


Cedar Gables – Kent

Very small, yet very quiet – this site sits next to the nearby Bewl Water, perfect for your cycling, walking and in particular a unique fishing experience. Cedar Gables is also a partner with the National Trust, with many properties available to look further into.  £8-20 a night but do budget for electric hook-ups etc.


Vale of Pickering – North Yorkshire 

This site is situated closely to the North Yorkshire Moors, allowing you the chance to see some of the glorious highlands. A superb sight for families, with plenty to do in the town to keep the children entertained. Travel in low season to avoid the rush of people; if you do then you’re looking at £15.50 a night.


Lonely Farm – Suffolk 

A perfect get-away from anyone who is consistently disturbed by the hustle and bustle of work and traffic. This adult-only site highlights the iconic parts of East Anglia. The seaside town of Aldeburgh is very close and boasts the ‘finest fish and chips’ in Britain. £14 a night leaves you with a reasonable budget to go out and treat yourself.


So if you’re looking to explore the UK a little more (something that I highly recommend as it’s dead easy to underestimate the amount of amazing activities and sites on your doorstep!) caravanning is a great way to avoid the crowds, be completely flexible in you plans and explore some of the most beautiful spots the UK has to offer.

And the fact you have your accommodation with you just makes everything that much easier!

Where do you really start when you get into this huge city? Well, I’ve made it a little bit easier for you, here are some of my top places to visit once you’re touched down in Barcelona. Just two years ago I visited the city for a couple of weeks – I’ve visited all of these places myself – each of them being a unique experience I don’t think you can get anywhere else. Barcelona are famed for their architecture and there is so much more to explore than what I’ve listed, so take your time to check out the other Gaudí building located in Barcelona, but this lot will be sure to get your started…


  1. Casa Battlo: My favourite place to visit, Casa Battlo is home to some of Gaudí’s finest creations. These whacky colours and peculiar shaped buildings are all outside and provide a good shade as you gently walk around the grounds. Very different to any art exhibition you’ve ever been to!
  2. The Magic Fountain: A brilliant spectacle! Stand and stare as water is propelled out of the floor at random points throughout the day. Complete free to come and see and a truly romantic place to visit during the evening, with lights illuminating the venue and music to lighten the mood.
  3. Nou Camp: The Nou Camp is home to Barcelona F.C, possibly the biggest footballing side in the world, famed for their sexy football and world renowned players. The likes of Messi, Henry and Ronaldinho have all graced this hallow turf.
  4. Little Barcelona: A very pretty little place to visit, the sandy beaches and turquoise seas make you forget you’re right next to the hustle and bustle of the city. Many unique jewellery shops and a host of different choices for food in the evening, you will simply have to visit twice! The perfect way to finish the week, with some beautiful food and a view of the seaside as you walk down the lit up promenade.
  5. Las Ramblas: Las Ramblas is a great place to visit for the day to keep you busy. From street dancers to freestyle footballers, this 1.3km street holds hundreds of market stalls and variety performers to keep you entertained. I like to call it Barcelona’s ‘Covent Garden’ with a great number of shops also lining the stretch of road.


With it’s close proximity to the UK, numerous low cost flight options and vacation apartments in Barcelona to suit every budget there’s no reason to escape the cold and get exploring. Next time I’m back in Europe it’s definitely on my hit list…



Sure beats Leicester Square
Sure beats Leicester Square


Incomprehensible station names, crazy interchanges and around 7 million passengers a day; taking the Moscow metro can prove pretty daunting for a first-time visitor to the Russian capital. But let’s be frank, this underground system is the mother of all metros. Its beautiful chandeliers, mosaics, sculptures and statues make it an attraction in itself. And it’s not all about its looks. The metro is also cheap (60 Rubles will buy you a ticket valid for 5 trips city-wide) impeccably clean and trains surprisingly run on time. Spanning almost the entire Russian capital it’s by far the best way to get around so here’s how to do it…

Get through the door

It may seem a little obvious but making it through the incredibly heavy doors without getting a broken nose is the first challenge. The constant piston action of trains pushing air through the tunnels creates some sort of vacuum meaning the doors swing shut so you’ll need to use all your force to push them open.

Learn the lingo

If you’re not familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet, its crazy shapes and symbols make reading the station stops pretty impossible, as they don’t tally with the English names on your map. Learning the language is obviously the best way around this but getting your hostel/hotel to write down the name of your destination in Russian should help you to identify where you need to go.

Erm, which way was it again?

Use your hands

If you haven’t succeeded to learn the language (see above point) then you’ll need to revert to age-old sign language to buy a ticket from the kiosk. Tickets are either sold individually or in groups of 5, 10, 20 or 60 so use your fingers to signal how many you want. The price is usually shown on the kiosk window (thank god numbers are universal) so you’ll know how much to hand to the woman. Smile is not included.

Ignore the sleeping woman

At the bottom of each escalator there is a glass cabin and inside sits a woman. Her job is to sit there all day looking up at the escalator, monitor the comings and goings of commuters and make loud speaker announcements to anyone who does not obey the escalator rules.  She is usually fast asleep but even so, don’t look her in the eye.

Ask younger people for advice

Do not expect Muscovites to speak anything other than Russian so swatting up on a few key phrases  (such as “how do I get to Red Square?”) is invaluable for getting around. As in most European countries, the younger generation is more likely to have studied English at school so if you need help, try approaching someone who looks fairly youthful.

Keep your passport on you

Don’t be surprised if you’re stopped by the police and asked to show your identification. It is standard practice so don’t start blubbing as soon as they appear but you will need to produce your documents. If you don’t feel comfortable carrying your passport with you, a photocopy should suffice.

And finally… Take your time

With stained glass windows, Swarovski-dripping chandeliers and mosaics expounding the benefits of a healthy communist life, the metro stations are architectural marvels in themselves. Make sure you book in some time to simply go from stop to stop and gawp at the grand designs. You wouldn’t do that in London and New York now would you?


Have you been to Moscow? How did you find using the metro? Any tips you’d add to the above?