In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Picasso exhibition

    Picasso exhibition

    Major Picasso exhibition to open

    about 2 months ago

    Art works from Picasso’s Blue and Rose Periods go on show this weekend at the Fondation Bayeler in the Swiss city of Basel. In terms of quantity and quality this is claimed to be most impressive exhibition of the artist’s output during those periods ever mounted in Europe. The Blue Period covered the years 1901–1904 when Picasso painted mostly in shades of blue or blue-green with only an occasional use of other colours. His Rose Period spanned the following two years, which saw him frequently depict harlequins, clowns and other circus performers. The exhibition runs from Sunday 3 February until 26 May.

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    Majority of silver travellers face insurance problems says report

    about 2 months ago

    Despite the fact that they are increasingly adventurous and see price as a relatively unimportant factor when choosing a holiday company, nearly two thirds of over-50s have experienced problems getting travel insurance. Almost one third (31%) say illness or disability has proved an issue, 20% cite high premiums and 8% say their age was a stumbling block. The figures emerged from Silver Travel Advisor’s latest annual report on the holiday habits, likes and dislikes of senior travellers. They come as Brexit threatens to deprive UK travellers of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which may exacerbate problems with prices. The report says: “Travel insurance for the silver traveller is an ongoing issue, principally for those with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions. Unless this can be resolved, many people with the wealth but not the perfect health to travel may be prevented from doing so. The report shows 42% of over-50s spend £1,000 – £3,000 a head on one or more holidays, a small drop from last year’s 45%. The proportion keeping their spending under £1,000 a head rose from 20% to 28%. The 12% able to fork out £5,000 or more per person has remained steady at 12%. When it comes to choosing a travel firm, previous good experiences are most important for 71%, with customer service cited by 46%. ATOL protection was important for 54% – up five percentage points from 2017 and perhaps, says the report, “reflecting growing concerns about company stability. The firm’s reputation was a key factor for 48%, while 33% were swayed by recommendations, including reviews written by other travellers. Read full report

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    The Lightbox in Woking (c) Ian Rudgewick Brown [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons

    Women photographers – exhibition opens

    about 2 months ago

    A retrospective of the work of women photographers in Britain is scheduled on 30th January in the Surrey town of Woking. The exhibition at The Lightbox is claimed to be the first of its kind for over 30 years. It will comprise some 70 works, lent by leading museums and galleries. They will range from the 19th century pioneering of Anna Atkins, sometimes referred to as the first ever female photographer, through Dorothy Bohm’s record of1960s London to Sarah Lucas’s 1990s self portraiture. Women in Photography: A History of British Trailblazers, runs until 2 June.

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    Forbidden City, Beijing

    Beijing rooms with a view – of Forbidden City

    about 2 months ago

    Most rooms at a new luxury hotel set to open in Beijing will have views of the Forbidden City, the huge complex that was home to Chinese rulers for almost five centuries. The property will also organise tours for guests, including an exploration by rickshaw of the city’s hutongs – warrens of alleys – one of which is reckoned to date from the Ming Dynasty. The 116 room PuXuan Hotel and Spa is a few minutes from the Chinese capital’s main shopping district. It will have a spa and 24 hours gym. Restaurants will include one serving Chinese dishes, the other French bistro food.

  • Perou short evening dress autumn winter 1954 haute couture collection h line. victoria and albert museum london. gift of cecil beaton

    Pérou short evening dress Autumn Winter 1954 Haute Couture collection H line, Victoria & Albert Museum London - Gift of Cecil Beaton

    Major Dior exhibition to open soon

    about 2 months ago

    Planning a weekend in London? What’s billed as the ‘biggest, most comprehensive exhibition’ of the work and legacy of fashion designer Christian Dior opens on February at the V&A. The story will be told through over 500 objects, from his personal possessions to rare items of haute couture, vintage cosmetics and period illustrations. It will look at the work of the six artistic directors of the House of Dior who succeeded him after his untimely death in Italy at the age of 52. The exhibition will delve into his fascination with things British, including great houses and gardens, Savile Row suits and ocean liners, and throw a spotlight on some of his high profile British clients, among them Nancy Mitford, Margot Fonteyn and the young Princess Margaret. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, runs until 14 July.

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    Guided tours to Egypt on the increase

    about 2 months ago

    Egypt is making a strong comeback in the market for escorted tours, according to Titan Travel. Analysing its bookings for 2019, it says the resurgence suggests customers are more confident to travel there as part of a group. The firm says says Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road TV series has spurred interest in Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia. It has also seen a jump in bookings for tours in Central America, which is “finally being recognised as safe and fulfilling” but where still limited transport options make escorted tours a practical way to take in the region’s highlights. Closer to home it reports a 40% jump in its bokings to Switzerland. Prices have remained stable there, it says and “the fact that Switzerland is outside the euro appears to offer peace of mind with Brexit looming”.

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    Black music museum to open

    about 2 months ago

    Nashville, home of US country music, is set to get a new museum focusing on the work of black performers and composers. The National Museum of African American Music, due to open in the new year, promises to use techniques including interactive technology to take visitors on a ‘Rivers of Rhythm Pathway’ from the origins of black music through the birth of jazz and gospel to the dozens of later genres created by black innovators. Its organisers have been trying to assemble a collection of relevant artefacts from instruments to posters and LPs. Under development on the site of a former convention centre, the project aims to show how the work of many of today’s best known artists, such as Beyoncé stems from the Afro American experience.

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    St Ermin's Hotel Bee Terrace

    Learn beekeeping at London hotel

    about 2 months ago

    Beekeeping workshops will be on offer this summer at London’s St Ermin’s Hotel. The hotel, near St James’s Park underground station, has six hives on a third floor terrace. Its 35,000 plus Buckfast honeybees produce an average of 25lbs of honey each year. The two hour workshops will be led by beekeeping expert Camilla Goddard of Capital Bee, which looks after the hives and those of a range of organisations, charities and individuals around London. She will explain the relationship between bees and flowers, what to plant and where best to position hives on gardens or allotments. Participants will also experience handling bees, managing hives and collecting raw honey. Dates of the workshops – they are open to non residents as well as hotel guests. are: 20 April, 11 and 25 May, 10 and 21 August, 21 September and 5 October.

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    Direct Bali service takes off

    about 2 months ago

    The first non-stop flights from the UK to Bali were set to take off from Heathrow today. Indonesian airline Garuda will operate three round trips a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Outbound flights will depart from London at 9.55pm. arriving in Denpasar at 9.30pm next day after a light taking 15hrs 20min or 15hrs 35min.The move is a welcome development for tour operators. Robin Ball, of Asia specialist, Bamboo Travel, said it would entice more people to travel to this paradise which, contrary to popular belief, is much more than a fly and flop destination, offering many cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

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    WOW air © Milan Nykodym, Czech Republic [CC BY-SA 2.0 (]

    WOW shifts London flights

    about 2 months ago

    Icelandic airline WOW is to shift its London-Reykjavik flights from Gatwick to Stansted at the end of March and cut the number of flights it operates on the route from two a day to one. The low cost carrier, which operates a clutch of services from the UK via its home base at Keflavik airport recently announced it was pruning its fleet by almost half. The move follows an agreement by US based Indigo Partners, which already has interests in a number other low cost carriers, to pump up to $US 75m into WOW.

  • Women only hols

    Women only holidays

    Into the wild – for women only

    2 months ago

    A Scottish adventure tour operator has added women only holidays to its programme for 2019. Cairngorms based Wilderness Scotland has launched a range of trips led by expert guides, including road cycling in Skye and the Inner Hebrides, sea kayaking and walking in the Orkneys. The firm says the aim of the new holidays is to help women overcome self consciousness, develop their love of and confidence in the outdoors and meet likeminded women adventurers. Programme manager Rachael Gavan says: “Of course, women have always been quite active in the outdoors but in the past it’s been hard to be heard in a culture that can sometimes feel quite male dominated.”

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    New package takes in Alps top summits

    2 months ago

    A clutch of iconic mountain peaks in one package form the basis for a new summer trip launched by Inghams. Customers start in France, in Chamonix, in the shadow of Mont Blanc, move on to Zermatt in Switzerland, dominated by the instantly recognisable profile of the Matterhorn, and finish in the Bernese Oberland, in Swiss resort, Grindelwald, presided over by the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch. Departures are available from June to September and prices start at £1,059.

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    Jet2 Boeing 737-8K2 by Aldo Bidini [GFDL 1.2 ( via Wikimedia Commons

    Glasgow to get new budget Krakow flights

    2 months ago

    Jet2 will launch new flights from Glasgow to Krakow as part of a 17% increase in the number of seats it plans to offer to city destinations for next winter. It will also start flying from Birmingham to Budapest and – for the Christmas market season – from Manchester to Cologne. The move suggests Jet2 is confident the current impasse over Brexit will be overcome. As we reported last week, the EU has published a regulation, to take effect if there is no withdrawal agreement, capping the total number of flights UK airlines will be able to operate to each EU member country at recent seasonal levels.

  • Uzbekistan credit maximum exposure

    Uzbekistan - photo credit: Maximum Exposure

    Uzbekistan to scrap visas

    2 months ago

    UK tourists visiting Uzbekistan will no longer need visas from 1 February. In a move to stimulate the Central Asian country’s economy President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has announced visas will also be scrapped for travellers from 44 other countries. Uzbekistan Airways, which already operate direct flights between London Heathrow and its Tashkent home base, is expected to add a second UK airport to its network this summer. Meanwhile Kazakhstan based Air Astana is to launch new services from Heathrow to Tashkent. Starting on 29 March it will operate three flights a week via the Kazakh capital, Astana. Outbound departures will be in late afternoon or early evening, arriving early the following morning, local time. with total journey times between 10hrs and 10hrs 35min. Westbound flights will depart at 10.10am, arriving in late afternoon on the same day.

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    Electronic devices – flight cabin ban lifted

    2 months ago

    With the lifting of a near two year long security ban, travellers are again able to carry laptops, tablets and other large electronic devices in the cabins of all flights to the UK from six Middle Eastern and North African countries. The move will benefit passengers flying from 15 airports in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Important holiday gateways include Dalaman, Bodrum, Hurghada, Luxor, Cairo and Tunis-Carthage International. The restriction had already been removed for a number of airlines from some airports on the list. The Department for Transport said the Government had worked with the aviation industry and international partners to introduce “tough new security measures”.

  • Ecuador


    New Ecuador walking holidays launched

    2 months ago

    Lodge to lodge hiking holidays in Ecuador have been launched by Edinburgh based tour operator Andean Trails. The firm says customers will be able to choose from a range of itineraries, depending on their fitness levels. Options could include climbing Pasachoa, an extinct volcano, following the Pita river through canyons and cloud forest, exploring an Inca site and spotting wild horses on the paramo plains of Cotopaxi National Park. The four day treks cost from £1,600 per person, including internal transport, all meals and an expert guide.

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    Car hire scheme to avoid airport parking charges

    2 months ago

    Travellers flying from Manchester Airport can now dodge parking charges by renting out their cars while on holiday. An organisation called ForestCar promises to check that renters are driving carefully by fitting and monitoring telematics devices. It says it will intervene if vehicles are not being driven responsibly. Customers take a share of the rental fee and are promised they won’t have to pay to park even if renters aren’t forthcoming. ForestCar says it will to invest 10% of profits in rainforest tree planting.

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    Norwegian axes Gatwick-Singapore flights

    2 months ago

    Low cost airline Norwegian will stop flying between Gatwick and Singapore at the end of this week, less than 18 months after launching the service. Its last east and westbound departures are on Friday and Saturday respectively. Passengers who had booked to fly later have been offered alternative travel options or full refunds. Norwegian has been operating four flights a week on the route. A spokesperson for the airline said the move would allow it to deploy the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft used on the route elsewhere on its network. “We continually evaluate our global network to ensure that we operate routes in response to customer demand”.

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    Tour firms slashing summer prices claims comparison site

    2 months ago

    Package tour operators appear to have dropped summer prices sharply in a bid to attract early bookings. According to the online comparison site TravelSupermarket, which compares packages from 25 firms, the median price of a seven night holiday in the Algarve resorts of Portimao or Alvor between 1 May and 21 October, for example, is 36% lower than that of its equivalent a year ago. Prices in Mallorca are 13% down, while those in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava and Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Nerja on the Costa del Sol have been cut by 28% and 17% respectively. The reductions may reflect nervousness about the possible deterrent effect of a hard Brexit on the value of sterling.

  • Brexit

    No deal Brexit? Questions remain

    2 months ago

    Questions remain over the operation of flights between the UK and the EU in the event of a no deal Brexit. Though Brussels has published a ‘bare bones’ regulation under which most flights would continue to operate, exactly how this would work in practice is far from clear. The regulation states that the total number of flights operated by UK registered airlines between Britain and each EU member state would be capped at its seasonal level in 2018. As UK airlines have already announced a significant number of new routes for the coming summer – plus increases in the number of departures on some existing routes – this suggests they may be forced into a complex juggling process. Some airlines may be able to create elbow room by flyting under EU licences. easyJet, for example, has moved to establish a European operation based in Vienna. While it seems unlikely that, as some reports have claimed, thousands of flights could be cancelled, some passengers who have booked far in advance might find their departure times altered. Our advice to readers is not to panic but to be aware that the Government has been less than transparent about the potential impact. Meanwhile Silver Travel Advisor will endeavour to keep you up to date.