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The summer is nearly upon us which means sunny weekends out and about enjoying the great outdoors but if you are stuck for a few ideas on something exciting to do, I know a man that can help. British author, Christopher Nye was kind enough to drop in for this weeks travel chat.
It’s called Weekends to Brag About – 100-plus Adventures in Britain’s Great Outdoors, and it’s a collection of around 140 ideas to get more out of your leisure time. I think people will love it, because while there are so many of the 1001-things-to-do-before-you-die books, they’re basically picture books. My book is a detailed explanation of the kind of activity (say, paragliding, or western-style horse riding), that you might have seen someone doing and thought, “ooh, I quite fancy a go at that, but where do I start?” My book tells you where to do it, how old you need to be (or how young), what it costs, the dangers, the appeal, all that, plus a few phone numbers and websites to start you off. And we do everything from abseiling to zorbing, covering just about everything you can do on wheels, on horseback, under a powerkite, underwater, up a mountain, rain or shine, summer or winter…
Or indeed, for British people, why go abroad, when you can be the other end of Britain and checked into a hotel before you’ve even reached the departure gate at an airport. For doing energetic activities, Britain has great advantages. The weather is surprisingly good, when you actually analyse it, but rarely too hot or too cold. We are a compact country where countryside is never far away, thanks to planning controls that protect greenbelt. We have the cleanest water for more than 100 years, more trees than for 250 years. Governments have spent a fortune on tourism infrastructure in recent years, so there’s tons of information, and for dangerous sports those much-maligned health and safety experts have done a good job in making them safer, but still fun.
For adventure activities I do love the Scottish “minches” between the Outer Hebrides and the mainland/Inner Hebrides. They feel so wild and remote.
I have to say the South Downs for the mix of countryside and the artistic and cultural heritage there – from the Bloomsbury group at Charleston, to Jane Austen at Winchester, plus Glyndebourne, Brighton – and because I live there.
Lastly… London and the area around Westminster, Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park. Until you go there you can forget how linked are the military, the government and royalty. I can watch them changing the guard in Whitehall all day. I like to get the 24 bus from Victoria to Trafalgar Square then walk back via the parks and Horse Guards.
Trains, planes, buses, whatever…, I cannot travel without having a window seat. Fortunately my girlfriend is usually happy with the aisle. Things-wise, I’ve learned to travel light, so an iPhone and a paperback is enough. Again, my girlfriend is the opposite.
Two days is plenty for a Weekend to Brag About… I would take a sea kayak out along the Welsh coast, packed with a bivouac, catch my own fish, cook it in the evening on a fire on some deserted shore, and pitch my tent as the sun goes down.
Spring is most beautiful, but people are really friendly at Christmas – I never understand why so many Brits go abroad then.
Where I am, Lewes, but in a bigger house.
London to Liverpool first-class by Virgin trains, then a good wander round the nearly empty Walker and Tate galleries there. I went last month and it was FANTASTIC.
Having to worry all the time about parking – Where? Is this permit holders only? Have I got the right change? How long have I got until the parking ticket runs out? Etc. My own town of 15,000 people has 30 full-time staff employed to control the parking. Ridiculous!
My family of course. But you want someone known by everyone else I expect? I’d quite like to get to know the real Pippa Middleton.
A big thank you to Chris for talking to The Blighty Traveller this week. Don’t forget to check out his latest book Weekends To Brag About: 100 Adventures in Britain’s Great Outdoors. You can also follow him on twitter and visit him at his website.
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