In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Riding in uruguay

    Riding in Uruguay

    Uruguay on horseback – new tours launched

    1 day ago

    Tours on horseback in Uruguay have been launched by a local travel organiser. Here are two itineraries. One – ‘with lots of canters’ and the opportunity to see a hug variety of birds, from flamingos to ostrich like rheas – covers the coastal province of Rocha. Lasting eight days it crosses isolated beaches, dunes, follows the edges of wetlands and includes time helping gauchos with cattle drives. The theme of the other, a four day tour in the Colinas de Garzon – a hilly area – and along the Atlantic Coast, is ‘Eat, Drink and Ride’. It includes a cookery class with a famous local chef. More information at “”.:

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    Warsaw flights from London’s Docklands planned

    3 days ago

    Flights to Warsaw from London City Airport are set to take off next winter. From 7 January LOT Polish Airlines will operate two round trips on week days and one a day at weekends using new Embraer 190 jets. Weekday flights will depart from London at 9.30am and 6.30pm, arriving at 1pm and 10pm respectively, and from the Polish capital at 7.15am and 4.15pm, arriving at 9am and 6pm. Weekend travellers will be able to take the earlier flight on Saturdays and the later service on Sundays. The same will apply to passengers returning from Warsaw.

  • St helena

    St Helena: dive and snorkelling holiday launched

    4 days ago

    Snorkelling with whale sharks off St Helena is included in a new package from our operator Dive Worldwide. The firm has taken advantage of the recently introduced air service from Johannesburg. The holiday is aimed at “the adventurous diver”. Large numbers of fully grown male and female whale sharks gather in these waters every year. There will be three snorkelling excursions, plus ten boat dives. Customers will stay in the Mantis St Helena in Jamestown, which was once barracks for the East India Company. There’s only one departure, on 14 February next winter. It costs from £4,195 per person, including flights, B&B for two nights in South Africa and seven in St Helena, some evening meals, diving equipment and the services of an expert guide.

  • Brexit

    Brexit threatens severe hospitality staff shortages - survey

    5 days ago

    New evidence has emerged that the UK’s hotels, restaurants, hotels and bars will struggle with staff shortages if Brexit goes ahead as currently envisaged. Just over one in ten workers (11%) in the hospitality industry is considering leaving the country, according to a YouGov survey. And about one third of industry managers expect they will have to pay higher salaries as they try to fill the gaps, pushing up the price of holidaying in Britain. Eight per cent are already actively considering pay rises. The survey was commissioned by Planday, an online communications platform designed to help hourly staff and Industry managers plan more efficient work schedules. It says 3% of managers fear they will have to close their businesses, at a potential cost of £1.1 billion to the economy. And almost 18% say recruitment has become tougher over the past year or so. Nearly a quarter of staff born outside the UK are concerned they may be forced to leave. Planday says the survey suggests the damage will be more severe than was anticipated earlier. It says managers previously estimated the loss of staff at only around 4%.

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    London Southend Airport to see big budget flights increase

    6 days ago

    Ryanair is to start flying from Southend next summer. The low cost airline, which will open a base there next April, plans to launch flights to no fewer than 13 destinations in eight countries. It will operate five round trips a week to Malaga, Alicante and Faro, four to Venice, Bilbao, Palma, Venice and Milan Bergamo, three to Cluj and Kosice, and two to Dublin, Reus (for Barcelona) and Brest. Ryanair’s chief commercial officer David O’Brien points out that London’s forthcoming Crossrail link, scheduled to open next year, will make the airport easier to each via Liverpool Street.

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    Yves Klein

    Blue at Blenheim – Klein exhibition set to open

    9 days ago

    Get the summertime blues at Blenheim Palace next month. Or to be more accurate, make that blue, singular. French artist Yves Klein is best known for using only one shade. With the help of a artists’ paint supplier in Montparnasse and a chemist from Rhone-Poulenc he developed his own, InternationaL Klein Blue (IKB), a particularly intense, bright colour that inspired several rock compositions. Blenheim’s exhibition, which opens on 18 July, will be the most comprehensive show of his work staged in the UK. There will be more than 50, among them sculptures created from pigment saturated and experiments from the ‘Anthropmetry series’ in which he used models as “living brushes” in front of an audience. The exhibition will run until 7 October.

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    Fiji flights deal launched

    10 days ago

    Flights to Fiji can now be booked through British Airways. The airline has signed a code share agreement with Fiji Airways, which has just joined oneworld, the marketing alliance to which BA also belongs. The move means BA sells flights to Nadi via Singapore, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with onward connections to Nadi with the Fijian carrier. Customers will be able to earn Avios (loyalty points) on both sectors.

  • Reading abbey interior wikimedia by chris wood

    Reading Abbey interior by Chris Wood via Wikimedia Commons

    Abbey ruins to re-open

    11 days ago

    The ruins of the 900 years old Reading Abbey, founded by Henry I in the 12th century, are set to re-open to the public at the weekend (16 June) following a £3.15m restoration. The site was closed in 2009 because of safety concerns. The subsequent work has included installation of new interpretative signs. The abbey’s royal founder died in Normandy before it was completed. But his body was returned to be buried there. Established by monks from Cluny in Burgundy and the Cluniac priory of St Pancras at Lewes in Sussex, the abbey’s mills were powered by water from the River Kennet. The traditional song “Sumer is icumen in” was first written down there. He abbey a largely destroyed during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century. Reading Town Hall first occupied part of the monks’ former refectory and was later replaced by its existing home on the same site.

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    The Great Wall of China

    Edinburgh’s China link set to start

    12 days ago

    Scotland’s first direct flights to China were scheduled to start on 12 June. Hainan Airlines will operate four round trip’s a week from Edinburgh, using and Airbus 330-300 aircraft. To Beijing’s Capital International Airport. It’s part of a triangular service that will include Dublin. On Thursdays and Sundays the airline will fly from Beijing to the Irish capital, then to Edinburgh and back to China. On Tuesdays and Saturdays it will operate to Edinburgh before continuing to Dublin.

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    Travelling with medication – Foreign Office warning

    13 days ago

    Holidaymakers have been advised to check the rules covering medicines in the countries they plan to visit. Some of those commonly prescribed or even bought over the counter in the UK may be controlled drugs under some national regulations, warns the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For example, medication contain in pseudoephedrine, found in over the counter medicines such as Sudafed and Vicks, is banned in Japan, while sleeping and anti- anxiety pills, and strong painkillers such as codeine require a license in Singapore. Other drugs that could cause problems in some countries also include Diazepam, Tramadol and codeine. Finding information on line or from consulates in the UK may prove difficult. Travellers should consult their GPs, carry prescriptions and the packages the medicines came in – and pack no more than they need for their time abroad.

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    Stansted – Dubai flights take off

    16 days ago

    New flights between Stansted Airport and Dubai were scheduled to take off today. Emirates is operating daily services, using extended range Boeing 777-300 aircraft fitted with first, business and economy cabins. Flights to the Gulf depart at 9pm, arriving at 7.05am next morning. London-bound services leave at 9.30am, arriving at 2.10pm. Emirates, which also operates to Heathrow and Gatwick, now offers ten flights a day between Dubai and London. It also flies between Dubai and a range of other UK airports, including Manchester and Birmingham.

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    Alpine ski resort in new bid for summer tourists

    17 days ago

    In a move calculated to attract hikers, mountain bikers – and those who just want to enjoy the Alpine views – the French ski resort of Courchevel will operate its ski lifts free of charge this summer 7 July – 31 August. The resort will also use the summer months to build a new cycle track to the summit of the Col de la Loze. Cyclists will start at 1926 metres, climbing 377 metres at a maximum incline of 14%. The traffic free track, which is currently used for lift maintenance, will run for 5.8 kilometres. On clear days, views from the top will take in Mont Blanc.

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    Drowning Girl by Roy Lichtenstein - courtesy MoMA

    New York art spectacular comes to Melbourne

    18 days ago

    It might seem a little odd, viewing art from New York in Australia, but if you’re planning to visit Melbourne soon it could be worth making extra time for the National Gallery of Victoria. Starting on Thursday 7 June, the gallery will be hosting a spectacular collection of some 200 works from Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art. It will include works by van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe. Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeoi, Roy Lichtenstein and Jeff Koons. The exhibition – MoMA at NGV: 130 years of Modern and Contemporary Art – will run until 7 December.

  • Premium room at the drisco

    Premium room at the Drisco

    Historic Tel Aviv hotel is reborn

    19 days ago

    A hotel that played host to luminaries including Mark Twain and Thomas Cook has reopened in Tel Aviv after a 12 year restoration. The Drisco is named after two Evangelist pilgrims who conceived it as the first luxury property in the region. It first opened in 1866, long before the Balfour Declaration paved the way for the creation of the state of Israel. Four years later it was acquired with its neighbouring building by a Templar, Ernst Hardegg, who renamed it the Jerusalem Hotel. Following the deportation of the German Templars by the British mandate authorities in 1940 it was abandoned and neglected. Now the property, close to the beach in the city’s American Colony district, has become boutique hotel. Original murals, recounting its history, have been restored. Its 42 rooms and suites have Carrara marble bathrooms and have balconies with views of Tel Aviv and Jaffa or the Mediterranean.

  • Atelier miro by pensierarte cc0 fromwikimediacommons

    Joan Miro studio by Pensierarte [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

    Miro’s studio re-opening

    20 days ago

    The main studio of Catalan artist Joan Miro is scheduled to e-open this month in Palma, Mallorca. Following renovation it will contain new exhibits installed to show it as it was in his lifetime. The Taller Sert, designed by his friend Josep Luis Sert, is a separate part of the Miro Mallorca Foundacio, a museum dedicated to his life and art which is currently staging an exhibition of some of his lesser known early works. There’s another in Barcelona, the city of his birth. Connected to his house, the studio became his main place of work in 1956. Miro died, aged 90, in 1983.

  • Leonardslee gardens

    Leonardslee Gardens

    Spectacular gardens to re-open

    24 days ago

    Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens in West Sussex a much loved attraction before they closed to the public in 2010, are set to reopen this summer after a painstaking, year long restoration effort. Their 200 hilly acres, with seven lakes – or at least ponds – have been described as the finest woodland gardens in England. They are especially spectacular in spring when rhododendrons, camellias azaleas, magnolias and bluebells are in vivid bloom. The gardens, which formerly attracted some 50,000 visitors annually, were acquired last year by Penny Streeter, a British born, South African based entrepreneur who owns vineyards south east of Cape Town and near the gardens in the shape of Mannings Heath Golf Club and Wine Estate. A vineyard being planted at Leonardslee will, it is claimed, be the only one in the UK to grow pinotage grapes South Africa’s signature variety. After a gap of seven years in which no maintenance had been carried out the gardens had become heavily overgrown. A team of 20 gardeners cleared almost ten miles of paths, including those through the delightful rock garden. They catalogued and traced the history of nearly 10,000 tress and shrubs, including a specimen of the critically endangered Sicilian Fir (Abies Nebrodensis), from which seedling will be sent to Kew Gardens. Leonardslee covers a valley where iron was once forged. The gardens owe their present incarnation to Sir Edmund Loder, who bought it in 1888. With a particular interest in rhododendrons and exotic conifers, he travelled the world collecting plants and animals – both those he shot and had stuffed and live examples, including beaver and wallabies. There are still some wallabies on the estate. With the gardens’ reopening – it is hoped in July – will come the addition of a restaurant in the 19th century Italianate mansion where Sir Edmund and other owners lived, and afternoon teas for visitors. And there will be the added attraction of the “beyond the Dolls House” exhibition, created by Helen Holland in 1998, with its miniature Edwardian estate and rooms containing tiny, superbly intricate furniture, clothes and figures.

  • Rv orient pandaw

    RV Orient Pandaw

    New Ganges cruises

    24 days ago

    Asian river cruise line Pandaw has ventured into India for the first time offering sailings on the Lower Ganges. Starting on 23 December it will operate weekly trips between Kolkata and Farraka. Cruises will run in both directions. The upstream itinerary will take in Chandernagore and Chinsura, respectively former French and Dutch settlements. Ohers stops will include rickshaw tours from Kalna to some of Bengal’s most attractive terracotta temples, the battlefield of Plassey, where Robert Clive defeaed Siraj-ud-Daulah, he last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the Hazaduari Palace, built in the 19th century by British architect Duncan MacLeod. Its name translates as the ‘Palace of a Thousand Doors’, of which 100 are false – a ruse to confuse any intruder. Prices start at US$1890 or each of two sharing a cabin, or about £1400 at current exchange rates. That covers main meals, drinks including local spirits and beers, excursions, guides, tips for crew and cycling equipment. Departures will continue until the end of April.

  • Heckfield place

    Heckfield Place

    Georgian mansion to open as luxury hotel

    25 days ago

    Heckfield Place, a Hampshire Georgian country house where George III stopped off on his excursions to Weymouth, is scheduled to open on September 1as a luxury hotel. The opening will end years of delay for the project as the Grade II listed property underwent restoration. The hotel will have its own orchard and market gardens – supplying vegetables, fruit, honey and flowers – in grounds celebrated in the late 19th century for horticultural displays overseen by head gardener William Wildsmith. It will have 46 bedrooms in the main house and a separate two bedroom cottage. There will also be a spa with studios for personal training, yoga, pilates and ballet and a private cinema seating 67. The hotel will also have two restaurants, one with a terrace overlooking grounds that include parts of an arboretum planted in the 19th century, the other with a set menu cooked over an open fire. Heckfield House, in the north of the county between the M4 and M3, was completed in 1790. It was built by John Lefevre, of Huguenot descent, who had made a fortune from banking and distilling, for his daughter. It was later inherited by his grandson Shaw Levfevre, a descendant who became Speaker of the House of Commons.

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    Manchester to get new Mumbai flights

    26 days ago

    New flights from Manchester to Mumbai are set to take off next winter. Indian airline Jet Airways will operate four round trips a week from 5 November, using 254 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Flights will depart on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturday and Sundays. They will connect with Jet Airways’ domestic flights to a wide range of destinations, including Goa, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Udaipur, and international services to cities including Colombo, Dhaka and Kathmandu.

  • Mamaev kurgan courtesy www.volganet

    Mamayev Kurgan overlooking the city of Volgograd - courtesy

    Stalingrad tours launched

    27 days ago

    The Battle of Stalingrad, turning point on the Russian front, is the theme of new tours launched by Leger Holidays for next year. Led by expert guide Paul Errington, customers will visit key sites in the city now known as Volvograd, including the Factory district and Mamaev Kurgan the hill with the huge statues (The Motherland Calls) that overlooks it. Both sites were scenes of some of the bloodiest fighting. They will take in crossing points on the Volga River, the grain silo, where a small group of Soviet fighters held out against an onslaught from German tanks and Stuka dive bombers and the so called Pavlov’s House, named after the platoon sergeant who commanded a similarly heroic defence there. The trip will also include visits to the Panorama Museum of the battle and the nearby Grudinin Mill, whose battered walls survive. The tour will include three days in Moscow with visits to World War 2 sites around the city. The full itinerary is at