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Travel Chat With Tess Longfield From VisitBritain

VisitBritain is Britain’s national tourism agency and they certainly are a very busy bunch with so much happening in and around the country with the likes of the Royal Wedding, the build up to the Olympic Games and the Queens Diamond Jubilee next year. So I was delighted when Tess Longfield took a little time out from her busy schedule to sit down with The Blighty Traveller for a good old travel chat.

You work as a part of the great team at VisitBritain, what is your role?

I head up our international destination PR team, which involves promoting Britain to the world’s media. One day I might be putting together VisitBritain’s strategy for showcasing Britain around the Royal Wedding – the next I might be escorting a TV crew around East London’s vintage gems. It’s a really exciting time to be working at VisitBritain, with the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games just around the corner, not to mention all the other fantastic things happening in 2011 and 2012.

With so much choice out there for the world traveller, why come to Britain?

Britain has the winning combination: thousands of years of history and heritage and the contemporary culture – fashion, music, art, architecture that we know visitors love. Where else but Britain could you explore the nooks and crannies of an ancient castle on the same day as seeing top names at a music festival and exploring boutiques with cutting-edge fashion?

Isle of Skye

Which are your top three places in Britain?

It is so tough to pick just three!!!
I don’t think I will ever get bored of London – VisitBritain’s offices are right next door to Buckingham Palace and so we have three Royal Parks on our doorstep to go jogging at lunchtime, or maybe have a picnic by the lake in St James Park. This week is London Fashion Week and London is buzzing with the crème-de-la-crème of the fashion world, so exciting times. I live in North London and love London’s ‘villages’ like Stoke Newington, Crouch End and Highgate.

The Ashdown Forest in Sussex is close to where I grew up and there are hundreds of great walks and varied landscapes to explore. It’s also Winnie-the-Pooh Country – the original ‘100 aker wood’ from the books and you can play Pooh Sticks and just generally go a-wandering.

I was lucky enough to visit the Isle of Skye last Autumn with some journalists and it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We spotted seals from a boat going from Plockton and tasted the freshest, most enormous langoustines. We stayed at Kinloch Lodge, a foodie paradise on Skye and had a cookery lesson with Marcello Tully, their Michelin-starred head chef. Amazing.

What can you not travel without?

A good book – I’m a recent Kindle convert as my husband bought me one for Christmas and although I thought I would miss leafing through a battered paperback, I love having 1,000 books in one slim sleek case! Having 3G means you can download something new at the airport or on the move and the battery lasts two weeks. TWO WEEKS – eat that iPhone.

London's South Bank

If you only had two days in Britain, what would you do in that time?

That’s an incredibly subjective one because for me, I know the place very well so I would probably visit somewhere I had never been before – like Glasgow maybe… However, if you’re a first time visitor to Britain I would say spend one and a half days exploring London, probably the South Bank and along the river…then perhaps a half day trip to Oxford or Windsor.

When do you think is the best time to visit Britain?

I guess May to September is when you would be more likely to get the best weather, however nothing beats an Autumn visit to the Cotswolds for spectacular autumn colours or a trip to Edinburgh for Hogmanay – so come any time of year!

If you could live anywhere in Blighty, where would it be?

I would like to live by the sea, so somewhere like Brighton or Hove in Sussex would be ideal for me. A nice country bolthole in the Scottish highlands would do quite nicely too for long weekends and summers.

What annoys you most when travelling?

I sometimes find other travellers annoying when they are really preachy about x place being the most amazing place and making you feel guilty that you didn’t tick off the top five sites. I think to get a feel for a place it’s nice to just sit in a café and soak up the atmosphere and not feel like you HAVE to go to that ultimate viewpoint or attraction.

Who would be your ideal travel partner?

My husband – we have travelled quite a lot in the Middle East together and as a fluent Arabic speaker he was essential to have around!

The Cary Arms

What has been your best travel experience?

I have travelled a lot around Britain for work and in my own time and been to some really fantastic places. My husband and I had a long weekend in Devon last May to celebrate our 30th birthday’s and we stayed at the luxurious Bovey Castle on Dartmoor and The Cary Arms in Babbacombe Bay. Both places were spectacular – The Cary Arms for the setting – right on the beach at Babbacombe – I spent breakfast scouring the horizon for a pod of dolphins that were expected…sadly missed them that day but definitely want to go back to ring the Dolphin Bell on the Captain’s Table!

A big thank you to Tess for joining us this week at The Blighty Traveller. You can follow Tess on twitter and If you would like to find out more about VisitBritain you can visit the website here as well  finding them on Twitter and Facebook.

For any fellow bloggers reading,VisitBritain has launched an online media centre where journalists can find press releases, story ideas, images and HD footage. New this month include dedicated sections on Royal Britain and 2012 Games.

One Response to Travel Chat With Tess Longfield From VisitBritain

  1. The Blighty Traveller Reply

    February 22, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Jogging through London, taking lunch time picnics by the lake in St James Park, and you call this work? 🙂 A very enjoyable travel chat.

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