Farnham travel operator Bushbaby Travel are helping customers to holiday safely while abiding by Covid protocols. Check out their latest advice on where you can hope to explore…
Whilst we’re unable to take to the skies until at least mid-May – we can still dream of foreign shores as we await the Global Travel Taskforce report on 12th April. We can plan holidays too, with refunds guaranteed by most tour operators should those dreams not quite become reality this year.
This summer we could be scanning our ‘Health Passport’ app at check-in, holding details of our recent Covid tests or vaccinations. We don’t believe many destinations will insist upon vaccinations to enter. However, they could allow travellers to avoid arrival protocols such as quarantine or tests.
It’s not just the rules of other countries that are key, but also our own. Currently, those having to travel for non-leisure reasons must quarantine for 10 nights and take three tests when returning. Those coming from a ‘red list’ country must do so in a hotel.
Whilst adventure-seekers may accept this in their quest to cure their wanderlust, we’re hoping quarantine-free travel to some low-risk destinations will be allowed, with testing in place to screen for variants. Our hopes and ambitions for summer are outlined here but do keep in touch via our Coronavirus Travel Updates Group.
Dramatic Iceland has almost eliminated Covid and the expectation of travel corridors with Greece and Cyprus are growing. Turkey is also promising! But for other parts of mainland Europe tourism will depend on vaccination progress and ‘Green Pass’ roll out.
For those longing for tropical climbs, the Maldives should see their travel corridor returned. The Seychelles (currently red-listed due to its’ proximity to mainland Africa) have minimal cases and nearly vaccinated their residents. It may be autumn, however, before we can savour a Mauritian sundowner.
Cases are now low in Southern Africa, but we expect at least home quarantine to stay due to variant concerns. If you’re missing the Bush, a safari in non red-listed Kenya remains a possibility. The UK is assisting in the vaccination programme there.
Previously corridors were confirmed with many countries here, but arrival quarantine remains in place for most. The exception is Sri Lanka, the tear-shaped island that ‘has it all’. Thailand tourism has launched a campaign for our return from 1st July, perhaps wishful thinking.
Whilst we remain hopeful for Canada, we don’t anticipate access to the USA until autumn. Holidays to Latin America are also likely to remain restricted – although a rainforest adventure in Costa Rica just might be on the cards!
The islands have fared well and we expect to see some travel without quarantine permitted. For example, Antigua, boasting a beach for every day of the year. Bliss!
As lockdown measures ease and the weather improves, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty remains a popular destination for both locals and visitors.
The past year has drawn more people than ever towards our green spaces in an effort to find fresh air for exercise and to reconnect with nature.
The Government’s roadmap out of lockdown sees measures eased this week, with the relaxation of the ‘Stay at Home’ rule, meaning outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside. From Monday, 12th April, non-essential retail will be able to open including most outdoor attractions and settings and hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors.
These dates also coincide with the Easter break, school holidays and improved weather, all factors that will see a greater volume of visitors head to the Hills for recreation and relaxation.
Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board says: “As lockdown measures slowly ease over the coming months, we expect the Surrey Hills to attract a greater volume of visitors. It is important that those who do come follow the Countryside Code and our guidance to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. We encourage those who do come to seek out the less well-known areas of the Surrey Hills and keep away from the busy beauty spots where it will be harder to socially distance. Please remember to respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors and where possible support the local business community who very much need our custom at this time”.
We encourage residents to be tolerant and visitors to be kind as we see an increased enthusiasm for the Surrey Hills over the coming months. In-line with the newly launched Countryside Code we’ve set out our top tips for visiting this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to ensure the countryside is a safe place for all:
• We are aware that many visitors who love to walk and cycle will have greatly missed the Surrey Hills landscape, the views, and the well-known beauty spots. We advise you to avoid well-known sites such as Box Hill, Leith Hill and the Devil’s Punch Bowl which may become congested and therefore difficult to socially distance. Instead, why not visit lesser-known areas of the Surrey Hills.
• Please check before you travel that hospitality, car parks and facilities are open. Some local amenities such as loos may not have reopened yet.
• Take your litter home, leaving no trace of your visit. This keeps the Surrey Hills a special place for everyone. Please don’t light fires or BBQs unless there is a sign to say they are permitted. It is easy for a fire to get out of control and destroy rare habitats.
• Respect local wildlife and look after nature by being extra cautious and sticking to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground-nesting birds and other wildlife.
• Please be aware that our local farms are under great seasonal pressures during this time and we would encourage you to respect their needs by keeping dogs on leads and follow all designated footpaths and bridleways to keep yourselves and farm animals safe.
• Remember to consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors. Observe social distancing measures to help restrict the spread of the virus and ensure the countryside is a safe place for all
• We encourage you to continue supporting local during this time of transition and want to highlight all the wonderful products and services available on our doorstep in the Surrey Hills. Take a look at our list of businesses offering home deliveries, online support and services, gifts and inspiration.
• We hope that renewed enthusiasm for the Surrey Hills will translate into more people getting involved in caring for nature, wildlife, and the landscape. Remember to Respect, Protect and Enjoy – breathe deep, stride out, and give a cheery heartfelt hello to those you meet along the way!
Chris Howard, Chairman of Visit Surrey says: “Visit Surrey is delighted to welcome back our residents and visitors to the many attractions our county has to offer. It will, however, be a challenging time for the county’s most popular beauty spots and researching to find some of the Surrey Hills hidden gems may make for a more enjoyable and safer experience. Remember many places, even if they are free, will want you to book in advance. Also, toilets and other facilities will still be limited, so do plan your outings carefully.”
Stephanie Fudge, National Trust General Manager for the Surrey Hills comments: “We would encourage all visitors to plan outings carefully and to check facilities are fully open. As wildlife emerges from the winter, we are seeing large numbers of ground-nesting birds across the Surrey Hills from March until early Summer. Their breeding success is critically dependent on not being disturbed and so we would ask that visitors are considerate, keep to paths and keep their dogs on leads in sensitive areas. By being respectful of wildlife and the local community we can all benefit from an enjoyable visit to the Surrey Hills.”
The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of 46 nationally protected landscapes in the UK, having equal landscape status and protection to a national park. The Surrey Hills AONB was designated on 8 May 1958, which makes it the first AONB in southern England to be designated (the first was the Gower Peninsula near Swansea in 1956). The Surrey Hills AONB stretches across a quarter of the county of Surrey and includes the chalk slopes of the North Downs from Farnham in the west to Oxted in the east, and extends south to the deeply wooded Greensand Hills which rise in Haslemere. The Surrey Hills Board is a Joint Management Committee which is funded by Defra, the National Trust, Surrey County Council and the local authorities within the Surrey Hills area.
For further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) visit www.surreyhills.org
Three ways daylight saving affect your sleep — and what you can do about it
The clocks go forward on March 28th — marking the start of daylight savings. Unfortunately, this means one less hour in bed, so prepare to feel extra sleepy that day!
As it turns out, this lost hour can have a greater impact than you may initially think on your sleep cycle. To help you prepare, we’ve identified three ways daylight savings affects your sleep, plus three ways you can fix it.
It disrupts your rhythm
Our bodies use circadian rhythm, a sort of internal body clock, to keep track of the time. It takes things like sunlight, how often we eat, and other aspects of our routines to determine when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. So, the hour lost from daylight savings could throw us off track and impact our nightly rest.
Solution: don’t oversleep. Try and keep to the exact same routine as you would normally. It may be tempting to lie in an hour past your alarm to ‘regain’ your lost hour of sleep, or even to have a nap during the day to catch up. But, these may be more detrimental to your body’s natural rhythm than if you were to stick to your regular pattern. Instead, it’s better to simply mourn the lost hour and move on, sticking to your usual routine.
The nights are shorter
This is the time of year where nights start to get shorter. By this, we mean that there are more hours of daylight, which is great for packing in loads of fun activities during the day. But, it can make sleeping difficult when the sun streams into your bedroom at times when you’d usually be trying to rest and recharge.
Solution: separate day from night. Darkness is key for sleep, as it tells our bodies to produce a soporific hormone called melatonin. So, at this time of year, you may wish to try installing thicker curtains or blinds to keep the light out and closing them around two hours before bedtime, so you can start to get sleepy when you need to.
Additionally, it can help to try and get as much light during the day as you can so that your body produces enough melatonin to keep you asleep through the night (NIH).
The weather is warmer
Summer sun is definitely something to look forward to, and the clocks going forward is signal that warmer weather is on the way. Unfortunately, this can mean sticky, sweaty nights and disrupted sleep, which can certainly put a damper on things. According to experts, the optimal temperature for encouraging sleep is between 15 and 20 degrees, much cooler than you might expect (Sleep Foundation).
Solution: keep it cool. The best solution would be to open your windows, as not only will this let the heat out, but the circulating air can make it easier to breathe too. You should also make sure you have a breathable mattress, as well as a lighter tog duvet than you would use in winter. A good summer duvet is generally around 4.5 tog, or anything up to 7.5 if you prefer a heavier blanket.
“The clocks going forward can make you feel off kilter for a few days, but it can have an even bigger impact on your sleep if you let it. Remember that sleep is a cycle, and maintaining a routine is crucial if you want to fall asleep easily and stay out of it until the morning.
“I always think of daylight savings as the start of summer, but, while longer days and warmer weather are a definite plus, if you’re not sleeping well, you can’t even enjoy the sun properly. Fortunately, by taking steps to make sure our bedrooms are the perfect environment for sleeping, we can enjoy a good night’s rest and longer days at the same time.”
Phil Lawlor, sleep expert at Dormeo. For more info please visitdormeo.co.uk
Free festival fun down by the riverside in Charlbury
Head down to the river this weekend for free family fun in Charlbury at the ever-popular Riverside Festival.
Held on the banks of the Evenlode, it has grown over the past 24 years, attracting thousands of music lovers who this year will be able to enjoy the US rock band The Pixies among many others. For youngsters there will be free pixie fun activities to join in.
There’s a packed programme of music on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st with more than 40 acts playing across four stages – rock, indie, jazz, and folk on the main two stages and all sorts on the Fringe and Buskers stages!
Headlining the main stage on Saturday is four-piece Oxford band Kanadia. Their big and bold alt rock sound and impressive stage presence has won them a growing fan base in Europe and a big following across the Atlantic in Mexico, the US and Canada.
Sunday headliner is popular upbeat garage punk band Self Help.
Other acts to look out for are Riverside favourites 2 Tone All Skas, The Knights of Mentis, Mighty Redox and eclectic Turkabilly band, Brickwork Lizards.
The second stage, run by independent record stores, Rapture in Witney and The Truck Store in Oxford has an impressive line-up of local bands including Peerless Pirates, Death of the Maiden and Ghosts in the Photographs.
The festival takes place in The Mill Field, Dyers Hill, Charlbury with entry opposite Charlbury railway station.
Guildford Summer Festival, with sponsor Silent Pool Gin, is back for its 36th year between 8th June to 10th August
Guildford Summer Festival is a huge celebration of all that is great and good about the town.
You’ll be able to enjoy a whole host of theatre, sport, art, music, walks, heritage, tours and days out to keep you busy over the summer.
New events for this year include Animal Encounter Tours at Merrist Wood and the University of Surrey Conductors Concert at Holy Trinity Church. Don’t miss the Woodland Fairy Fair at Watts Gallery and take a trip to the beach at Guildford on sea outside the Electric Theatre.
Popular returning attractions include the festival craft fair, farmers’ markets, cricket festival, Guildford Lions raft race, drama in the castle grounds and classical concerts. Also back by popular demand are the free Alice Day at the castle (3rd August) and the Cheese and Chili Festivals at Shalford Park (21st & 22nd July).
Join a free guided town walk exploring the history, the Alan Turing walk and new Leading Lights Walk where you can meet characters from the past. Staying outdoors there’s the Round the Hogs Back Cycle Tour to join too.
The whole Guildford Summer Festival is being sponsored by Silent Pool Gin.
There are arts exhibitions to view at the Mill Studio, Watts Gallery and Guildford House Gallery and theatre at G Live and the Yvonne Arnaud as well as Guildford Fringe Festival at several venues in July.
Find out more
Festival brochures can be picked up at the Tourist Information Centre and tickets are on sale now for most events.
Whizz over the city with Zip Now London this summer
Calling all thrill seekers – if the idea of being 35m up in the air in central London, whizzing at speeds of up to 50kph over a distance of 225m appeals then read on…
Zip Now London returns to the Southbank for its third summer season today (12th) until 15th September.
This year it’s set to be bigger and better with a fourth line offering even more highflyers the chance to enjoy the views and the exhileration.
After launching from a 35-metre high tower you’ll whizz past the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Gherkin, Lambeth Palace and The Shard.
Real adrenalin junkies will be able to add on the option of a free-fall mega drop if they think they’re up to it!
Zip Now CEO Barry Shaverin said: “Zip Now London is back and better than ever offering a huge rush of adrenaline without needing to leave zone one. This year we’ve added a fourth line to meet the huge customer demand for people to fly in groups with their families, friends and colleagues.”
Zip over London Monday to Friday 11.30am to 7.30pm; Saturday 9am to 7.30pm and Sunday 9am to 5pm.
Us Brits love talking about the weather… and there has certainly been a lot to be talking about this July. Since the weekend, it has turned to our ‘traditional’ overcast summer, but there is more hot sun forecast. So which kind of summer do you enjoy?
Last week, we asked about rubbish… if you feel that the process of recycling needs to be more transparent. Here is the poll result …
Alan Titchmarsh is calling on all gardeners to unite to create a refuge for struggling butterflies, moths and other pollinators this summer. Join us in your garden – and online.
The future of our butterflies, moths and other pollinating insects is under threat,” warns Mr Titchmarsh, vice-president of Butterfly Conservation.
The cold start to spring may affect how some butterflies fare this year, as they could have less time to feed and breed. But you can help by creating some ‘plots for pollinators’.
“So many flowers are great nectar sources,” adds the local star, “such as catmint, cosmos or calendula. You could attract butterflies such as my favourite, the Red Admiral,” adds Mr Titchmarsh. “[Your square metre] doesn’t have to be on the lawn – you could create a vertical garden on an unused wall or fence.”
The project encourages you to set aside one square metre to plant a nectar-rich flowerbed or a colourful container garden over the summer.
Pollinating insects fertilise many crops, as well as other plants, trees and wild flowers. Gardens can act as vital refuges for pollinators, which are increasingly under threat from habitat loss, agricultural intensification and climate change. Previously widespread species, such as the Small Tortoiseshell and Garden Tiger Moth, have seen numbers plummet in recent years.
Titchmarsh’s Top Tips
Measure one square metre of outdoor space as a plot of pollinators and fill it with open-flowered, nectar-rich plants. Choose a sunny, sheltered position and group pots on a patio, grow up a fence or wall, or pick a flowerbed patch.
Water your plot regularly – ideally from a water butt which is more eco-friendly. Water soil not the plant; larger leaves can act as an umbrella shielding roots! Remove your watering can’s rose to get nearer the plant base if necessary.
Put a layer of mulch on the surface of the soil around the plants to help prevent water evaporation and suppress weed growth.
Always choose peat-free compost and cut down on plastic. Use recyclable and recycled containers or be creative and turn tins and tubs into pots, drilling drainage holes in the bottom.
Dead-head after flowering for more blooms.
Inspire your neighbours to plant a plot to create a flowery super highway.
Avoid harmful pesticides by removing slugs and snails by hand instead. Night is the best time.