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Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win The Ways of Wine on DVD

Win The Ways of Wine on DVD

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Simply Media to offer three lucky readers the chance to win The Ways of Wine on DVD.

Real life Sommelier and wine expert Charlie Arturaola stars alongside consultant winemakers Michel Rolland, Susana Balbo and Jean Bousquet in The Ways of Wine (El Camino Del Vino), a hilarious story about a Sommelier who loses his palate at the glamorous ‘Masters of Food and Wine’ festival in Argentina.

Real life Sommelier and wine expert Charlie Arturaola

In the search of a solution, Charlie seeks help from some of the most important people of the wine world and begins a funny and touching wine tasting journey, from huge wineries to small vineyards, in order to recover his taste.

The Ways of Wine is filmed in mocumentary style

Beautifully shot and filmed in a mocumentary style, The Ways of Wine tells this poignant story with a perfect combination of drama and humour.

The Ways of Wine comes to DVD on 8th February 2016 from Simply Media.

The Ways of Wine comes to DVD on 8th February 2016 from Simply Media

 For Your Chance to Win

Tell us what
interesting job does Charlie Arturaola have
?

 a) Florist
 b) Detective
 c) Sommelier
 d) Photographer

  To Enter the Competition

Tell us what interesting job does Charlie Arturaola have? Then send in your answer together with your full name and postal address and telephone number by clicking on the Sixtyplusurfers link below:
sixtypluscomp@hotmail.co.uk

* Please label your entry
The Ways of Wine Competition


* This competition is open to our
UK visitors only

 

     Happy Valley

Sarah Lancashire stars in Happy Valley

          Starring Sarah Lancashire
               returns to BBC ONE


BBC One returns to the Calder Valley for the highly anticipated second series of Sally Wainwright’s multi-BAFTA-award-winning Happy Valley.

As series two opens, we join Catherine (Sarah Lancashire), the altruistic and forthright police sergeant who is back heading up her team of dedicated police officers in The Calder Valley in West Yorkshire.

James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce

Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton) is now behind bars, but continues to haunt Catherine as she rebuilds her life. There are suspicions that a serial killer is behind a spate of murders and Catherine makes a gruesome discovery that has shocking repercussions for her and her family.

Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle) has his own set of problems, and despite being in prison, Tommy forms a bond with a mysterious female admirer (Shirley Henderson).

Sarah Lancashire talks about her role as Catherine Cawood

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood


Did you expect the first series to be such a success?

"You know when a script is good, but you don’t have any knowledge how visually it is going to look. When this came out and I saw the first episode and thought it was terrific."

Why do you think it struck such a chord with people?

"I would like to think that the piece as a whole, the characters, the story, were all so engaging and really captured people’s imaginations. I also think that the production value is very high on this."

Where do we find Catherine when the series begins?

"It is 18 months later, so Tommy has been in prison for a year and a half. He was charged with three murders so he is not coming out. Catherine finds a body in episode one and the rest of the series unfolds from there."

Do Catherine and Tommy have two separate stories in this series?

"Yes, as Tommy is in prison. We don’t strictly encounter each other in this series. We do meet but our stories are kept quite isolated."

There has been a lot said about the violence towards women in particular. What do you think about the violence?

"Catherine is a police officer and the violence she was subjected to in series one is what female police officers can be subjected to every day of the week. I would never condone anything which I thought was salacious, titillating, or gratuitous."

"If you replayed the violence from series one, what you think you saw you probably only heard because it was shot beautifully. It was an absolutely honest portrayal of what a female police officer can be subjected to."

How does Catherine Cawood get on with other new members of the team, John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle) and Jodie Shackleton (Katherine Kelly)?

"It is very interesting because they are CID. They have been brought into the building to investigate what appears to be a serial killer. She loathes Jodie Shackleton simply because she used to be CID and she knows how CID works."

What sort of reaction have you had from female police officers?

"The feedback we had was that they had never seen a police officer portrayed accurately and that Catherine Cawood is a great portrayal of police officer. This is down to Lisa Farrand who was our police advisor. She is retired from the force now but she was a sergeant and whenever we do any sort of procedural stuff Lisa is with me. She takes no nonsense and gets on with the job."

Does the series still maintain its characteristic humour despite the difficult storylines?

"Yes, Catherine’s dark humour is present all the way through. Remember how Steve Pemberton’s character got deeper and deeper until he got too deep? It’s the same with Catherine."

James Norton talks about his role as Tommy Lee Royce

James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce

Was it easy to get back into the character?

"Yes it was. Sally did such a good job of writing him. What was tricky was making sure we established the fact that he is a changed man with what he has been through, so I was slipping into a different version of Tommy."

Has Tommy changed in this series?

"No, he is still a psychopath, he is still Tommy Lee Royce. It’s not like he has reformed but the images you see of him in prison may lead you to believe he has changed."

You have a new look for series two of Happy Valley, how does that feel?

"We talked about how we wanted Tommy presented 18 months on from the first series. I think that for someone like Tommy going into prison, he has two choices: either collapse and be destroyed by it all or take control. We decided that it was going to be the latter, so shaving his head and showing that he has got fit is a way of telling the story of how he has taken charge."

Where do we first meet Tommy in series two?

"We join Tommy when he is in the middle of a visit from a woman. This woman is someone who has reached out to Tommy and what is beautiful about Sally’s writing is that you’re never quite sure how much of it is purely manipulation and grooming and how much of it isn't."

Do Tommy and Catherine meet in series two?

"Obviously being a murderous psychopath means there aren’t many opportunities to get out for a day release trip. However, the one opportunity I do get is for a funeral. I only got to film with Sarah Lancashire who plays Catherine for an hour which was really quite exciting, because both of us spend so much time thinking and talking about each other in the script."
 

  Sugar Free Farm

Jane McDonald in Sugar Free Farm

        Watch it on ITV1, stars include
                    Jane McDonald


Going cold turkey from sugar can be seriously tough and Sugar Free Farm sets out to put this to the text. Six famous faces undergo a dietary experiment - living entirely without sugar for two weeks.

Turning their backs on the modern food industry, they live and work on a country farm in return for their share of healthy, wholesome food. Breaking their addiction to sugar will push their bodies to the limits.

Sugar Free Farm

Embarking on the radical regime are musical theatre star Jane McDonald, comedian Rory McGrath, quiz mastermind and Chaser Mark Labbett, actress Tupele Dorgu, Towie's James 'Arg' Argent and dancer Jennifer Ellison.

On entering Sugar Free Farm, former West End actress and mum of three Jennifer says, "I've really neglected myself, I don't look after myself at all. Throughout the day I'm constantly grabbing a chocolate bar or a can of fizzy drink, hence why I'm so fat."

Jane McDonald musical theatre star warns, "This is going to be difficult for me to keep up because life's to short not to have a scone."

And reality star Arg adds, "This isn't a diet we're used to so it's going to be tough.

James Argent from Towie

Living in a farm worker's cottage on Laverstoke Park Farm, set deep in the Hampshire countryside, over the course of the two weeks the celebrities' roles are split and rotated with four of them working on the farm during the day and two tasked with preparing and cooking the sugar-free meals.

On hand to keep the celebrities on the sugar-free wagon is nutritionist Angelique Panagos, who warns, "There's not going to be one grain of sugar for the two week on the farm. They'll be learning about what foods to eat so when they leave the farm they'll have new tools."

With fruit an alcohol on the forbidden list, can life ever be sweet again for our six celebrity guinea pigs? In a bid to cheer themselves up after three days of hard labour, the celebrities head to the local pub, but will the lure of sugar-laden alcohol and bar snacks prove too strong?
 

Entertainment & Travel


Vera Series 6
 
Brenda Blethyn as Vera


   Watch it on ITV1 with Brenda Blethyn
 

International award winning actress Brenda Blethyn, OBE, makes a welcome return as Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope in the sixth series of the popular crime drama produced by ITV Studios.

Set in contemporary Northumberland and Newcastle, Brenda is reunited with co-stars Kenny Doughty, Cush Jumbo, Jon Morrison, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lisa Hammond and Riley Jones in four new stand-alone films; Dark Road, Tuesday’s Child, The Moth Catcher and The Sea Glass.

Other actors joining them across the series include; Sharon Duce, Kelly Gough, Faye Marsay, Sean Gilder, Tanya Franks, Melanie Kilburn, Jack Ellis, Chanel Cresswell, Alex Ferns and David Calder.

Inspired by the best selling novels and characters created by acclaimed crime writer Ann Cleeves, writer Paul Matthew Thompson has adapted ‘The Moth Catcher’ from the recently published novel of the same title Martha Hillier and Glen Laker join Paul
as part of the writing team.

In the opening film, Dark Road, Vera investigates the mysterious death of Ann-Marie Richards whose body is discovered by a young girl on the wild and desolate Northumberland moors. Unbeknown to Vera and her team, this case will have devastating and long lasting effects for all involved.

The new films are produced by Letitia Knight and directed by Marek Losey, Jill Robertson, Jamie Childs and Paul Gay. ITV Studios Creative Director of Drama, Kate Bartlett, is Executive Producer alongside Michael Dawson. The new series has been
recommissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Commissioning Steve November.
 

Brenda Blethyn talks about the role of Vera


Brenda Blethyn as Vera

Vera is now 24 cases in. Can you work out whodunit?

“No I’m not able to tell. The scripts are extremely well written. And like most thrillers I’m kept guessing until the very end. Actually, neither does Vera “guess” who the culprit is. I’m not an actor who goes to the last page first.”

You’re very supportive of author Ann Cleeves. How has your friendship grown over the years?
 

“I attended the book launch of The Moth Catcher, which the third film is adapted from. But we are both extremely busy and don’t see each other much. I love it when Ann visits the set. I went to her house to enjoy a fabulous curry made by Tim, Ann’s husband. It was absolutely delicious.”

When you first started to film Vera back in 2010 did you ever imagine how successful the series would become?

Brenda Blethyn as Vera

“You always hope the project you are working on is going to be successful. I thought the character was very interesting, different, and worthy of a series but of course there is no guarantee. So naturally we were all delighted when the first series was commissioned. And thrilled each .me it has been recommissioned.”

Vera is screened to over 100 international territories. Have you received feedback from oversees viewers?

“Yes it’s always nice to hear from viewers across the world who enjoy Vera. There was a lovely review in the Sydney Morning Herald recently. They love her irascible nature and many admire the fact that she commands a position of authority over men!! And that the episodes are so well written.”


What can viewers expect from this series?

Brenda Blethyn with Kingsley Ben-Adir as Dr Marcus Summer and Cush Jumbo as DC Bethany Whelan


“More high quality drama. I love that ITV maintain the production values of the series. The art department is second to none. The stories in the first two episodes are particularly difficult for Vera to come to terms with. And as viewers have come to expect there are many great Northumberland locations.”


A lot of the case evidence is displayed on iPads. How familiar are you with modern technology?

“I do use a mac, and iphone. But I don’t use it to its full potential. For instance I don’t use a calculator or sat nav. I prefer to use my brain. I’ll look at a map and work out the route. Calculate something with a pencil and paper.

“Certain mod cons are used in the police force. Speed of access to information is often vital. But Vera is old school. She’ll probably end up with an iphone at some point. But all the time Aiden has one, she doesn’t need it!”

You’re a great supporter of the Macmillan Coffee morning, which was held on September 25 whilst you were filming. What did you do to help raise awareness and funds?

“Yes I’m a supporter of Macmillan Cancer Support. For a couple of years I did the voiceover for the coffee morning commercial. The cast and crew of Vera organised a coffee morning that day (25th September 2015) and we sent off a cheque for about £700. The following week our wonderful supporting artistes held another one and sent off another sum of money. They’re great and many of them have been with the show from the beginning.”

Do you support any other charities?

“Yes I’m a supporter of quite a few charities including, Barnados, The Princes Trust, The Royal United Hospital, Bath Buy-a-Brick Campaign. The Ramsgate and Broadstairs Sea Cadets. And I’m president of the Thanet Male Voice Choir.”

The locations and landscapes are always a big part of the series. What areas of the North East were new to you?

Brenda Blethyn with Cush Jumbo as DC Bethany Whelan


“One of the locations we visited whilst shooting the fourth film was Redcar. It was very sad because it was at the time of the tragic steelworks closure. Thought provoking to say the least. In the same film we also spent a good deal of time at North Shields fishmarket.”

What is your favourite scene from the new series?

“There is a scene in the first film between Vera and Edwards (Riley Jones). It’s late at night and they’re the only two left in the office. It shows the vulnerabilities and strengths of both characters. And of Aiden who witnesses the scene.”

Kenny Doughty talks about his role as D.S. Aiden Healy who joined Vera’s team in series 5. He’s since worked hard to earn her respect and prove his worth as a strong and reliable partner.

Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy


Following the broadcast of series five what feedback did you receive?

“My friends and family were very excited and lovely about my debut on Vera. One actor friend was very kind and said it was like I’d always been part of the drama. For me that is the biggest compliment. To come into such a successful drama and become part of the world was very important to me.

“I was really moved and touched by the Vera fans who contacted me on social media. Their support and kindness for Aiden is lovely. They really got behind him from the beginning and that meant the world to me. This drama is their programme – it’s for them and I thank them for their support.”

For someone who hasn’t seen Vera, how would you summarise D.S. Aiden Healy?

Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy


“In last year’s series Aiden was new to the area, the job and finding his feet with his new boss Vera. He probably tried too hard to impress and often made mistakes. This series we have a more settled Aiden. He is confident about his job and is a hardworking Detective. Not on the same level of genius as Vera but he does understand her thinking more.

“However he’s still hot headed at times and physical with some of his suspects which gets him into trouble. To diffuse a situation with his boss Aiden often uses his cheeky banter. As always he is answerable to Vera, but they work together closely on each case alongside a strong team.
 

“Aiden and Vera’s relationship has grown over the course of the series. There’s a lot more trust between them. Even though Vera gives Aiden a hard time with her demands and sharp wit and expectations, underneath he is very fond of her. And
protective.”

What can viewers expect from the new series?

“The new series of Vera is blessed with some terrific stories. The first film covers a shocking storyline that I haven’t seen before on Vera – one that will affect everyone on the investigation team. Over the course of the four films we tackle cases that involve domestic abuse, a family feud in the fairground world of travellers and the difficult and stressful lives of the fishing community in the North East. And to top it all we were lucky enough to film an adaptation of Ann Cleeves’ latest book ‘The Moth Catcher’ which is the third film in this new series.”

How different was each directors approach to their own self-contained films?

“What I love about working on Vera is that each film is like starting a new job as we have new directors, cast and writer. It always brings a freshness and there’s a real sense of excitement when we start the new film. It does take a few days for the new director and regular cast and crew to find each other’s rhythm as each director has a different way of working. But by day two or three we are all on the same page. I think it’s this energy that keeps each film fresh and challenging.”

Did you face any challenges during the shoot?

“Vera is a special job as most of the shoot is on location. We get to see pretty much all of the North East and experience all of its glory. As with most shoots we also work days and nights which means that some filming days are freezing!

“On the second film we were on a crime scene that was so remote it took forever on quads or 4x4’s to get there. The location was stunning – but as it was so remote the insect life was undisturbed until we arrived. I have never seen as many flies in my life! Every take was a battle not wave off a fly from your face or mouth. Clouds of black flies swarmed around everyone and that buzzing in your ear!!”

Do you have favourite or memorable scenes?

Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy with Brenda Blethyn as Vera


“I love the scenes between Aiden and Vera when they are taking a moments pause from the case in hand. When they get to share and talk about their lives. There’s one particular moment at the end of the second film when Vera has encouraged everyone to go to the pub but she stays behind – Aiden comes back with a takeaway and Vera offers up a mug of whiskey. They have a moving, if fleeting, moment together before the banter starts up again.

“There’s a scene I loved shooting when Aiden and Vera are grabbing a sandwich and mulling over the case – they touch upon Aiden and fatherhood and in their own way share a lovely moment.”

Did you have any down time during the production to explore the North East?

“It’s a pretty intense shooting schedule on VERA and we don’t really get that much time off to explore the North East outside of filming. But as each episode is so location based we get to visit pre\y much all of Northumberland and beyond. I love filming on the NE coastline – I think it’s stunning!

“When I get any free time I love going for beach walks at Tynemouth.”

Tell us about your working relationships with the cast and the production team.


Brenda Blethyn as Vera with Kenny Doughty as DS Aiden Healy

“Brenda and I get on brilliantly. It’s a 5 month intense job and I spend pretty much every day with her. We have the same silly sense of humour which in those over long days is a lifesaver.

"There was a weekend over the summer that we had 2 consecutive days off and we decided to head up to the Edinburgh Festival. I don’t think we stopped laughing on the train journey up there – I’ll let her explain why!!!
 

“It’s always a real treat when Ann Cleeves comes to set and we all managed to have dinner together after filming. Ann is such a lovely, kind and knowledgeable woman and I love being in her company.”

Vera is globally successful. What do you think audiences love about the series?

The cast of Vera


“Brenda Blethyn’s genius in her portrayal of Vera. That combined with scripts that are always smart, intriguing and atmospheric. The series is shot like four individual films and every department of the crew are working at the top of their game.

“Vera has the highest production values on screen and the expansive moody rural locations add to the air of mystery. Audiences love watching this unlikely and iconic Detective, played so amazingly by Brenda. They love her sharp wit, her relationship with Aiden and her unorthodox techniques. They love that she is an older woman in a man’s world and she is completely devoid of affectation or vanity.

“Working on Vera is such a joy – the cast and crew are like a second family to me and everyone cares so much about creating the best series. It can be tough at times – intense long hours all together day after day for 5 months.

“Things go wrong sometimes of course, but whatever happens we are all in it together. I love that about the series. There’s a real sense of togetherness in telling these stories. I’m very proud to be a part of it all.”

 

  Ten Romantic Spots
    in The New Forest


Lover in The New Forest

This February 14th take your Valentine to the most romantic place in Britain - The New Forest.  Bursting with breathtaking views, beautiful places to stay, great food to eat and secret spots to spend time with the one you love most, the New Forest is perfect for making those Valentine memories…

1. Grab a photo beside the road-sign in the village of Lover (Ok, it's pronounced 'Lowver', but no one will tell if you don't.) But DO watch out for traffic.

2. Shelter beneath the ancient boughs of the Knightwood Oak – at 600 years old and more than seven metres round, it's bound to bring the blessing of longevity to your relationship.

3. Take time to experience the Crystal Steam Room at SenSpa in Careys Manor Hotel. Like being under multi-coloured starry, starry skies. And the extra bonus of being beautifully warm…

4. Treat them to the Tea Guild's 'Best Tea in Britain' outside of London, at the Montagu Arms in Beaulieu – in this case the food of love will most definitely be the food!

5. Tell them you love them at the New Forest's highest point, Piper's Wait, near Bramshaw, Lyndhurst. They'll feel on top of (this part of) the world!

Visit the platform overlooking the Deer Sanctuary at Bolderwood or the Red Deer Sanctuary at Burley

6. Show them how 'deer' they are to your heart by taking them to the platform overlooking the Deer Sanctuary at Bolderwood or the Red Deer Sanctuary at Burley. Sightings cannot be guaranteed, but you'll have fun looking.

7. Hire a retro VW Campervan from New Forest Safari for the mini-trip of a lifetime

8. Stand atop the seven arches of the bridge spanning the River Avon at Fordingbridge

9. Walk the 1.5 miles from Milford-on-Sea to experience the lonely beauty of Hurst Spit. The castle won't be open but you'll be standing so far into the Solent you'll feel you can touch the Isle of Wight.

Have dinner at the Rhinefield House Hotel

10. Marvel at the opulent splendour of The Alhambra Room at Rhinefield House Hotel before enjoying lunch or dinner at this country house hotel.

For more information about the New Forest click on www.thenewforest.co.uk
 
 

    Dine and Stay at
     Hever Castle for
      Valentine's Day


Hever Castle

For the ultimate Valentine’s Day experience, wake up to breakfast full of fizz with your loved one at Hever Castle. The romantic castle in Kent is where Henry VIII first set eyes on Anne Boleyn and came courting her at the family home. What better way to say ‘I love you’ than to treat your partner to a special Dine and Stay package in the very place where one of history’s great tales of romance took place?

The amazing Valentine’s Day experience begins on 13th February when couples check in to their luxurious ‘five star’ bedroom before a drinks reception in the Castle at 7.30pm. This is followed by a delicious seven course meal with wine, coffee and chocolates in the Tudor Suite Dining Room, where music provided by a harpist adds to the romantic experience.

Stay in a 'five star' bedroom at Hever Castle

Overnight accommodation in the sumptuous setting of the Anne Boleyn Wing or Astor Wing is guaranteed to make a couple feel special. So too will the breakfast served with Prosecco and a red rose the following morning. To round off a memorable occasion, guests are given a Private Guided Tour of Hever Castle after check out as well as complimentary access to the Castle and Grounds on Valentine’s Day.

Hever Castle is the ultimate setting to enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway with that special someone. The twenty eight elegant bedrooms have been refurbished to an exceptionally high standard whilst retaining the classic and historic influences of their surroundings.

Stay in a 'five star' bedroom at Hever Castle

All en-suite and individually styled, the ‘Five Star Gold’ rooms offer stunning views, indulgent bathrooms, antique furnishing and sumptuous beds. It’s a unique chance to stay on a former royal estate with over 700-years of history while enjoying 21st century luxury.

The Valentine’s Day Dine & Stay package must be pre booked and costs from £200 per person. Check in is from 3.00pm.

For further information and bookings please visit the website www.hevercastle.co.uk/stay
 

 

    Italy is the Best
Place for Valentine's
    Day Solo Breaks


Visit Venice with tourbar.com


Mamma Mia! UK lonely heart travellers name Italy as the best destination for Valentine's Day solo breaks.

Solo UK travellers in search of a partner to travel with over the Valentine's Day period have named Italy as the top destination they are planning to visit solo, according to the leading travel dating website and app tourbar.com.

According to the latest research, 11% of TourBar's UK members are planning to visit Italy alone over the Valentine's Day period with the aim of meeting a like-minded partner to join them on the trip. The research reveals the charms of Italy's delicious cuisine were the top draw for why members chose the romantic hot spot, followed by its shopping credentials.

TourBar's members sign up to the website and app for free and register their plans for upcoming solo trips. By recording their travel plans and interests, they are able to meet fellow solo travellers with similar hobbies to join them on a trip. Additionally, for those not travelling themselves but still interested in meeting globe trotters, they can register as a guide in their home city to host travelling singletons.

TourBar's members sign up to the website and app for free and register their plans for upcoming solo trips

The data also reveals the USA was the second most popular destination for lone UK travellers, accounting for 9% of planned solo trips, thanks to the number of people visiting America for business, shopping and sightseeing. The Netherlands' close proximity to the UK was one of the reasons that helped it secure the position as the third most popular destination for Valentine's Day solo trips (6.2%) as well as its vast array of sightseeing and shopping opportunities.

Those UK travellers looking to travel further afield named the UAE as the fourth (6%) most popular destination to visit over the romantic period thanks to those planning cruise and beach breaks. Spain was found to be the fifth most popular destination (5.7%), also as a result of those booking cruising breaks as well as visiting the destination for its foodie credentials.

When it comes to TourBar's global members, the USA (12.7%) was named the top destination to visit alone over the Valentine's Day period. The research reveals that those planning trips across the pond during the romantic season are doing so in search of shopping breaks, concerts and sightseeing. European destinations including Spain (8%), Italy (7.2%) and France (6.8%) secured the second, third and fourth most popular destinations. Additionally, the lure of shopping, cruising and beach breaks helped the UAE (6.3%) secure the fifth most popular destination for global solo travellers.

For more information click on www.tourbar.com
 

 Basking Sharks, Rare
   Birds and Bluebells
 at Toad Hall Cottages


Neadon Cottage Dartmoor


The West Country is a fabulous destination for a spring break when its spectacular landscape literally comes alive. Wildlife enthusiasts, birdwatchers, walkers and anyone who enjoys the great outdoors won't be disappointed, and Toad Hall Cottages www.toadhallcottages.co.uk
 has a fantastic range of properties available for a Spring or Easter Holiday.

Spring arrives early in the West Country and is one of the best times of the year to visit, especially for wildlife lovers. On Dartmoor and Exmoor wild pony foals are born and are a lovely sight along with the new-born lambs on the hillsides. Vast tracts of the moors are covered in wild flowers and new growth attracting insects and birds including buzzards, skylarks, and house martins.


Dartmoor ponies


Birdwatchers will also enjoy visiting the region's many wildlife reserves including Slapton Ley in South Devon where migrant birds appear from March, rare breeds can be spotted nesting, and the woodland trails are awash with bluebells and primroses. And at the Axe Estuary Wetlands on the Devon/Dorset border visitors can be lucky enough to spot the occasional Osprey as well as a variety of wading birds, otters, water voles and bats.

Axe Estuary Wetlands

In spring the seas around Devon and Cornwall begin warming up which also attracts many animals, on trips out of Falmouth Harbour visitors can spot basking sharks up to 12 metres long, pods of dolphins, seals, whales and seabirds all drawn by the increase in fish and plankton.

Walkers on the South West Coast Path which runs the length of the Dorset/Devon/Cornwall coastline have the best of all worlds during springtime with clear sunny skies, stunning coastal scenery, the chance to spot rare birds, seals, dolphins and other wildlife as well as the benefits of an active break.

Award winning Toad Hall Cottages have over 600 holiday cottages throughout the South West ideal for a springtime holiday. On Dartmoor Neadon Cottage is a great choice for families, this 17th century cottage is on a working farm and guests can help feed the baby lambs as well as enjoy the stunning remote location (Sleeps 8, dogs welcome, 7 nights from £495).

See the bluebells in Dartmoor

Birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy Lower Reeds at Torcross, Devon overlooking Slapton Ley Nature Reserve as well as being directly on the South West Coast Path and surrounded by beautiful beaches and countryside (Sleeps 2, dogs welcome, 7 nights from £385), or within easy reach of the Axe Estuary Wetlands as well as Hugh Fernley Whittingstall's River Cottage is Courshay Springs, Axminster where an additional spring highlight is the wildflower meadows which surround the property (Sleeps 5, dogs welcome, 7 nights from £374).

Topsides in Fowey


For sea life trips out of Falmouth and wonderful coastal walking stay at bright and spacious Topsides in the nearby Cornish fishing village of Fowey (Sleeps 6, 7 nights from £692).

For details visit www.toadhallcottages.co.uk
 
 

   Romance on the River

 
Romance on the River with Bateaux London
 

Loved-up couples can celebrate Valentine’s Day in a room with a view – the best view in London.
 
On Sunday, 14th February, Bateaux London vessels Harmony and Symphony will take to the Thames for two romantic, dinner cruises, combining fine food with live entertainment against the stunning backdrop of London’s most iconic and historic sights.
 
Diners will be welcomed on board with a glass of Champagne before being shown to their table for the evening. They will then be served a four course meal, prepared and cooked on board by Bateaux London’s team of chefs, with a selection of wine, beers and soft drinks as well as a single red rose.
 
And not only will entertainment be provided by a live band throughout the evening, but couples will enjoy the finest possible views of sites such as the Globe Theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and the Houses of Parliament as Harmony and Symphony make their way down the River Thames.
 
“Nowhere in London can match the views you get from glass-sided Symphony or from Harmony, which has the largest open viewing deck on the Thames,” says Gareth Brown, Bateaux London Marketing Manager.
 
“Few places in the world are as spectacular as London at night and what could be more romantic than gliding along the river, under Tower Bridge, with a glass of Champagne and the capital of England laid out before you?”
 
Boarding will begin at 18.45hrs for Harmony and 19.30hrs for Symphony with each vessel departing half an hour later. The Valentine’s Day river cruises will last approximately three hours.
 
All Bateaux London cruises depart from Embankment Pier, Victoria Embankment and guests are expected to adhere to a smart dress code.
 
Prices start at £145 per person and reservations can be made by calling 020 7695 1800, emailing reservations@bateauxlondon.com or visiting www.bateauxlondon.com

 
Dining cruise gift vouchers, which come with a souvenir map, are also available