Want to ensure that your next beach trip is as smooth as your beach body? Read our list of tips and tricks to help make your next barefoot holiday more enjoyable and fabulous.
1. Eat a good breakfast A hearty breakfast before heading to the beach is a great idea. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re enjoying yourself and the heat can sap your appetite, leading to dehydration. So start the day with a good meal for lots of fun in the sun.
2. Get to the beach early
Get the most out of a beautiful day by heading to the beach early in the day. Generally it’s not as crowded, and although the water might be a little cooler than in the afternoon, it will feel refreshing and still as marvellous. It’s easier on your skin too, as the sun doesn’t shine as intensely in the morning.
3. Bring lots of the right sunscreen
Everyone knows that they need to protect their skin from sun damage but do you know what factor sunscreen you should use? Nowadays most experts recommend nothing less than SPF 30. Remember, don’t just bring it to the beach, slather it on regularly around every hour or so. If you’re fair-skinned or in and out of the water, you may need to apply the sunscreen more often.
4. Protect your electronics
In this connected world, chances are you’ll be bringing your mobile phone to the beach and sometimes a tablet or other electronic devices. Sand and water can be a death sentence for gadgets. Hate to take them, but hate to be without them? Never worry about them getting soaked or sandy again by storing them in a ziplock plastic bag
5. Hide your valuables
You may think that putting your money, keys and other stuff in your shoes is a great idea. Well so do the thieves! Instead of doing the obvious, hide your valuables somewhere no one will think to look, like wrapped up in a baby’s nappy (clean of course!) or an empty pop bottle.
6. Be sociable
The beach is a great melting pot. Every type of person, couple and family will be at the shore. Even if you don’t want to talk to others, good etiquette demands at least a hello to those lying next to you on the sand. Who knows? You might even make new friends.
7. Drink lots of water
Staying hydrated is important every day but especially on beach days. The best way is to take lots of bottles of water with you. If you don’t have a cooler with you, why not keep some bottles in the freezer to take with you. That way your water will keep cool for longer. If you don’t want to carry bottles with you make sure you’re heading to a beach where there is somewhere to buy or get drinking water.
8. Don’t sleep on the beach
With waves lapping on the sure and a lovely warm sun on your body it can be very tempting to take a nap, but it can lead to serious sunburn. If you want to get some sleep, always make sure you’re under the shade. Remember, the sun moves around and so a beach umbrella won’t always have shade in the same place.
9. Don’t go out too far on the water
Even strong swimmers can get into trouble swimming in tidal waters. If you are on an inflatable, like a lilo, you can end up drifting out to sea even on the tideless Mediterranean. So stay safe, stay close to the shore.
10. Don’t swim with jellyfish
If you hear of jellyfish sightings, avoid swimming in that area. Jellyfish stings can turn a wonderful day at the beach into a disaster. Jellyfish stings can be dangerous and require a trip to casualty. Protect yourself as much as possible and if you can, wear a ‘stinger suit’ as they call them in Australia (a special wet-suit).
11. Don’t force youngsters into the water
It’s not funny if little ones are forced into the water. If they are scared it could put them off swimming for life. Let them get in at their own pace. Your patience will be rewarded when you see their happy little faces as they splash around
12. Take games and books There is plenty to do at the beach: swimming; looking in rock pools; walking along the shore; to name but a few. But it is always good to be prepared to keep the kids and adults occupied. Take things to play active games with, like a football, bat and ball, frisbee, etc as well as something to do when you’re chilling. Crossword puzzles and novels are great for passing the time while you top up your tan.
13. Don’t take your camera into the surf
Splashing waves are a great way to ruin your camera or smartphone. Take your pics away from the surf to ensure you keep your memories, and your equipment, safe and dry.
14. Save the alcohol for sundowners
While a cold beer can seem like just what you need on your sunbed, it can quickly dehydrate you. Why not treat yourself to an alcoholic drink when you come off the beach? It tastes twice as good when you’ve been waiting for it!
15. Get rid of the sand
There is nothing so annoying as having stubborn sand sticking to your hands, arms, legs and feet. Baby powder isn’t just for babies, it can also take all that sand off your body. Don’t try and rub or wash sand off, instead shake some baby powder onto it. In no time at all, you’ll have silky and fragrant sand-free skin.
Need inspiration for your beach holiday? Take a look at our latest offers. Stay safe and have fun!
How many bottles of suntan lotion do you take on holiday with you? Chances are it is not enough. "That's ok" I hear you say, "we can always buy some where we are going". But this could be a costly mistake.
If you follow the guidelines that the NHS lay down here then you are most probably one or two bottles short on sun protection.
With prices for sun lotion in the UK some of the lowest anywhere you can save big bucks by buying here and taking with you. Even at the airport the prices will be lower than in most holiday destinations. In Greece and Cyprus you can pay the equivalent of £12-13.00 and in Spain and the Balearics you can pay up to an eye-watering £17.45. Compared with a cost in the UK of £4.50 this is a significant spend for a family. Check out prices on the Post Office's handy Holiday Costs Barometer here.
In fact a British family could end up spending as much as £200 on extra sun protection products. Wouldn't you rather spend that money on something more fun? So pack extra suntan lotion in your suitcase whenever you go on holiday. Don't end up with a red face - in any sense of the word!
1. Wedding Wreaths
There are some local wedding customs and traditions in many countries that go back centuries. Greece is no different. In the Orthodox church ceremony, two white circlets called stephani (meaning ‘wreath’) which are joined together by a ribbon, symbolising the unity of the couple. They are placed on the bride and groom’s heads by the priest during what is known as the ‘crowning ceremony’. There is much other symbolism contained in the stephana (pl), such as the crowning of the couple by Christ via the priest. The exchanging of the stephana from bride to groom three times by the best man (or woman), the koumbaro(a) seals the union. During our wedding, even though we married in England, we had stephana at our ceremony, swapped on our head by our koumbara
2. Throwing Rice
When leaving the church guests throw a handful of rice on the couple’s heads which is symbolic for the good roots of the marriage.
3. Parading the Dowry
For many decades now, most weddings in Greece are no different from anywhere else. For most, the traditional “Greek wedding” seems more and more like a distant memory. But there are some regions in Greece where old customs and more picturesque weddings still happen. In order to still see that kind of old fashioned wedding, one has to go to the small towns on Mount Olympus (like Livadi or Agios Demetrios), or the rural regions around Ioannina, and of course the islands. Even then, it is getting rarer and rarer. Old tradition dictates that the procession to the church is escorted by a horse carrying the bride’s most valuable belongings and embroidery, which are proudly displayed. Accordion and clarinet always prevail in the traditional wedding parties in Greece, as these customs derive from medieval Greece and Byzantium.
4. Wedding Favours
At the wedding reception it is traditional to give wedding favours known as bonboniera. These are usually bags or boxes filled with sugared almonds (koufeta). The white of the almond is for purity, the almond’s egg shape represents fertility, and the hardness of the nut personifies the endurance of marriage. The sweet sugar is symbolic of the sweetness of married life.The number of koufeta should be 5, symbolising health, joy, fertility, prosperity and longevity. Sometimes the number is more or less but always an odd number, which is not divisible by 2 and therefore representing the fact that the couple cannot be split up. Ideally the number should be a prime number - divisible by 1 and itself - symbolising that the couple can only be separated by death or themselves.
5. Traditional Treats
During the reception pasteli may be eaten. This delicious snack is made from honey and sesame seeds. We tried some at the Apolloniatisses bakery in Rhodes - and brought some home as it was so yummy.
In Crete another tradition is to decorate the wedding table with special decorative bread called Xóbliastres. At one time this would have been to feed the whole village but in modern times it is purely decorative rather than edible.
6. Pinning Money on the Bride & Groom
Of course most people have heard of the pinning of money onto the bride’s dress instead of giving wedding gifts at Greek weddings. It is still a common practice in Greek communities around the world, although probably not so much in Greece. Unfortunately nobody did this at our wedding!
7. Plate Smashing
Although a tradition which people associate with Greek celebrations, the “Breaking of the Plates”, which once implied abundance, to symbolize good luck and happiness, is now considered to be in very bad taste. It is also officially discouraged by the authorities as being dangerous in most regions of Greece.
Dreaming of a 'big fat' Greek wedding or a small, intimate event? We can help you incorporate some of these traditions and customs into your dream wedding in Greece if you wish. Contact Sarah today to arrange your free consultation. We'll create the perfect celebration in magical Greece.
The strawberry, one of the most popular fruits in the world, comes originally from the Americas. It’s a member of the rose family and is a unique fruit as it has seeds on the outside rather than the inside. The most common varieties are a hybrid of the wild Virginia strawberry (native to the USA) and the Chilean variety (originally from South America).
Native Americans were eating strawberries when the European settlers arrived. Often the crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. After trying this bread, colonists developed their own version of the recipe which became the famous strawberry shortcake.
In the 1500s, explorers brought the fruit back to France from Virginia. The Virginian and Chilean varieties were then brought together accidentally about 250 years ago in a botanical garden in France, where a new type of strawberry was born. This is the variety we eat with such gusto in Europe today.
The strawberry was also a symbol for Venus, the goddess of love, because of its red heart shape.
The English word "strawberry" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "streoberie". The word was first spelt in the modern way around 1538.
In 1625 the British Francis Bacon described how ‘strawberry-leaves dying, yield an excellent cordial smell’, suggesting that strawberries were admired as much for their scent as their taste. It is still true that the very smell of the fruiting strawberry plant gets your mouth watering. Indeed the strawberry features in many works of fiction throughout history, including these:
The strawberry grows underneath the nettle
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality.
William Shakespeare, Henry V (c. 1599), Act I, scene 1, line 60.
The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
Dr William Butler, 17th Century English Writer
In Britain many regions grow strawberries, including Kent, Devon, Cheshire, Lancashire and Scotland. But of course, the fruit grows equally well in warm and Mediterranean climates of the northern hemisphere. In Europe there are even annual strawberry festivals in the Greek towns of Paradisi and Nea Manolada, and in the French town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, as well as many in the US. There are also many strawberry fayres in the UK too, from community events to music festivals. In parts of Bavaria, the annual rite of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of cattle as an offering to elves is still practiced by country folk. Elves are believed to be passionate about strawberries and the offering will mean healthy calves and abundant milk.
It is impossible to mention strawberries without their mouth-wateringly perfect complement, cream. There is something quintessentially British about strawberries. An English summer wouldn’t be the same without a bowl of strawberries drizzled with cream. This delicious combination has been enjoyed for centuries, from kings to commoners. But nowhere is it more iconic than at Wimbledon, the international home of lawn tennis.
Celebrate this decadent fruit. Use our concierge service to add Wimbledon or festival tickets to your holiday itinerary or book a tour around the strawberry growing regions of the world.
First you are asked to be a bridesmaid, which is very exciting - all those bridal plans to discuss, dress fittings to attend and emotional support to provide. And then you get asked by the bride to be to plan her hen party! It’s a great honour but can seem daunting as you want to make your bestie’s hen do amazing. So we are here to help with ideas and tips to make the event a huge success.
To make a start it is always best to consider the type of person that the future bride is. What does she like to do? Is she an adrenaline junkie or more of a spa girl? Does she appreciate the finer things in life or prefers a few beers in the local pub? There are so many activities to choose from nowadays that there really is something for everyone. Just make sure you don’t spring a surprise on your friend than she might not like – always best to discuss your plans for her special party first. So that you don't miss any essential steps out of your planning download our handy Hen Party Planning Checklist .
Hen Party Ideas in the UK
Once a hen party was just a gathering of the bride to be, bridesmaids and the brides mother at the local pub. Now a hen party can be celebrated in a myriad of different ways. Here are some ideas to give you food for thought!
For a really interactive hen party experience why not try a wine tasting? From novice to wine connoisseur, there is a wine tasting for everyone. Take the classy route with a sparkling wine tasting and a vineyard tour or learn how to taste like a professional and join in a fun quiz.
Cheese & wine pairing
Already taken a wine tasting? Why not learn more about which cheese goes with which wine. Not only is it a delicious way to spend an afternoon or evening, it’s a great way of lining your stomach if you’re heading out to the clubs and bars afterwards!
Explore the magic of artisan chocolate making. Take a class led by an expert chocolatier and make choccy treats to eat and take home. The perfect choice for a hen with a sweet tooth.
For the future bride who enjoys the finer things in life and just wants to spend time chatting to her girlfriends over a great meal, what better choice than a Michelin starred lunch or dinner? Push the boat out in style and choose an ultimate dining experience.
If you love cooking or baking, this is a great choice for a hen party. You can have fun together in your pinnies and make something delicious to enjoy with your besties. Learn from professional chefs or expert bakers and learn recipes from your favourite cuisine.
Visit a distillery and enjoy a tasting with the experts. Learn about the aromats that go into gin, each imparting their own flavour. You could even get the chance to make your own unique bottle of gin to take away. A fun and fascinating hen party.
Spoil yourself and book the quintessential British treat, afternoon tea. Be waited on at a classy hotel or in a quaint tea room whilst enjoying patisserie delights with your chums. Add champagne for the ultimate indulgence.
Offering a bespoke service, Tasteful Travel can add any of these experiences to a UK short break in a location of your choice. Pair a foodie adventure with a spa weekend or a country cottage stay. So don’t delay, contact our hen party experts for a free consultation today.
Hen Party Ideas Abroad
Go to the home of the first ever hen parties. In Ancient Greece, there were three parts to marriage. Firstly the Proaulia, when the bride spent the last days before her wedding with her mother, female relatives and friends preparing for marriage. During this time the bride-to-be and her family made offerings to the gods and feasted. So you can see where the tradition for celebrating amongst girlfriends came from.
Nowadays there is a huge choice of hen party trips to Greece. From a relaxing spa break with the girls or an action-packed week of activities and experiences – think parascending and speedboats, think wine tasting, think waterparks, think sightseeing, think cookery lessons, think clubbing, think anything you wish.
Greece offers an amazing choice of scenery from its numerous picturesque islands to its bustling mainland cities. Choose Corfu for café culture or fun nightlife. Laze away the days on lovely Skiathos or Paros. Get caught up in the action on Kos and Rhodes. Or get your fix of metro sophistication in Thessaloniki or Athens. So much choice requires a bit of help to get the right hen do destination. Why not call the Tasteful Travel hen party experts for a free consultation.
Jet off to the sunny island of Malta and its crystal clear waters, great gastronomy, and excellent night clubs. What more could you wish for? The flight time is pretty good too. The country is made up for 3 islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino so boat trips are a must. From sunset cruises to party boats, you can be sure of a good time on the water. Or maybe you prefer to try life underwater on a diving course?
Book a spa treatment for your group then head off to Marsaxlokk for a great meal at one of the many restaurants terraces overlooking the sea. No visit to Malta would be complete without exploring Valletta, medieval capital boasting city walls and bustling harbour. The islands also produce great wine too. And don’t forget to head to St Julians for the nightlife at its Paceville district.
If you think Malta might be just the destination for your hen party email our travel specialists for a call back.
But you don’t have to stick to our favourites, Tasteful Travel can book a hen party anywhere you wish worldwide. Our service is completely bespoke so we can tailor make your dream trip to anywhere for groups of any size. Don't delay, download the ultimate Hen Party Planning Checklist to help with your first steps, or drop us a line today for your free consultation.
There is nothing like travelling to a great destination, eating delicious food and having new experiences. But today travelling is not just about flying and flopping. It is exploring the place, getting to know the landscape, culture, tradition and cuisine.
Travelling gives us an understanding of people from other lands, and can be a journey of self-discovery. First-hand knowledge is so much better than reading about it or watching on TV. You can see awe-inspiring sites, have unique experiences, see works of art, have wildlife encounters, eat great food and try new drinks. All in all, travel makes memories that last a lifetime.
Stir your imagination quite with a new adventure. Knowing that you have a trip planned is a great motivator; something to look forward to. If you are hungry for food experiences, craving excitement and new cultural insights, then speak to Tasteful Travel about your dream bespoke holiday.
When planning a holiday, whether it’s a multi-stop adventure to far flung destinations or a week in the Isle of Wight, it’s vital that the trip is tailored to you. Designing the perfect holiday is not easy but with the help of a specialist travel consultant, the process can be stress free and simple.
We are happy to meet you in person to discuss your trip, either over a coffee or on a home visit. If more convenient we can discuss plans over the phone or via email.
All aspects of the trip from flights to transfers, accommodation to excursions, Tasteful Travel design the perfect journey for you. Destination, budget, likes and dislikes and holiday style are all taken into account so that you get the travel experience you love.
No matter whether you seek a relaxing getaway in luxury resorts with day trips included; an action-packed break exploring by camper van; or a foodie extravaganza; Tasteful Travel can help make the dream a reality.
Our in-depth knowledge of European, Middle Eastern and Antipodean destinations, coupled with our passion for helping clients plan amazing holidays, mean that you get the very best bespoke trip planned for you.
Visit stunning locations on open-jaw land itineraries with cruises, a unique way of travelling between incredible places. Fancy a Greek odyssey with some island hopping built in? Have a desire to journey from Singapore to Sydney? Prefer to travel across Australia on the Ghan train on an Aussie adventure? No problem. Having travelled extensively in Europe, made many trips to Australia and lived in Kenya, Singapore and Dubai, I have the experience and insider tips to make a great itinerary extra special.
The personal service that Tasteful Travel provides is not limited to just flights and accommodation. Our concierge service can add spa visits, restaurant reservations and excursions to your trip. We will also be with you every step of the way, from planning your holiday to providing on-tour assistance and checking in with you when you get home.
To get in touch and find out more, contact Sarah today or check out our website at www.tasteful-travel.co.uk.
After all the doom and gloom of the Brexit negotiations, it is nice to hear some positive news for British travellers. The May exchange rates are up when comparing rates with this time last year. In fact, sterling is up against every European currency except the Swiss franc compared with last May. Some of the biggest gains are in non-EU countries and further afield, for example the Turkish lira (up 34 per cent on last year), Icelandic krona (up 13 per cent) and South African rand (up 10 per cent).
As the latest Thomas Cook Holiday Report shows, Britons are shunning Euro Zone countries in search of better value elsewhere. Although Spain remains the tour operator’s most popular destination, bookings to Turkey have brought the country into second place in the rankings, while bookings to Tunisia have also soared.
There are plenty of good value destinations within easy reach if you don't want to book long-haul. Croatia offers a great variety of resorts and activities. Of course there are great beaches and lovely islands to explore by boat but there are also vineyards for wine-tasting as well as walking and cycling trails for the more active.
Another big seller this year is Bulgaria. Golden Sands is a beach resort that's a great alternative to the Spanish costas. There are also cultural visits nearby, such as the town of Varna and the Aladzha Monastery (caves which have been occupied since the Stone Age).
Bargains are to be had in Morocco. Essaouira is a wonderful beach destination and of course there is fabulous Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains, amongst other attractions. Take a camel ride, try your hand at windsurfing in Essaouira (situated opposite the Canaries), or visit the bustling soukhs and haggle for a great deal on handicrafts, lamps and spices.
It's good to see confidence returning to Egypt after years of instability. Sharm el Sheikh is still not possible to visit due to the ongoing ban on flights from the UK. However, there are alternative Red Sea resorts such as Hurghada and Marsa Alam. Enjoy a beach break with great snorkelling or take excursions to the highlights of Egyptian antiquities in Luxor, the Valley of the Kings or Abu Simbel. Activities are many and varied, including camel rides, boat trips and quad biking in the desert to name but a few. Having visited myself this year I can highly recommend Egypt for fabulous sea life adventures in the Red Sea and amazing cultural sites, as well as awe-inspiring sunrises over the mountains in the desert.
Sign up to our newsletter for the latest deals to these and worldwide destinations.
So youâve chosen to tie the knot on foreign shores â congratulations, thatâs a great first step. There are plenty of reasons to choose a destination wedding in a dream location - sunshine, soft sand or striking scenery. Even better if you are making it a weddingmoon in paradise! But choosing the perfect dress to suit the occasion can be tricky.
âIt will need to stand up to the heat, humidity and probably sand too, to keep you comfortable on your special day. Ideally avoid anything that's too tight, embellished or too heavy. Instead, select a wedding dress with light floaty layers or sheer fabrics, sleeveless or with loose sleeves to keep your cool and fresh on the day.
Bohemian looks and off the shoulder dresses are perfect and the fashion for dresses with short or no train really helps at a beach wedding.
The latest trends for simple silhouettes and clean lines Ã¡ la Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, are ideal for a steamy destination. Idris Elbaâs recent marriage in Morocco saw his bride, Sabrina Dhowre, wearing a stunning A-line off the shoulder gown from Vera Wang before changing into another Wang creation for the evening celebrations.
< script async src="//www.instagram.com/embed.js">
Short dresses are utterly in vogue and will keep you cool under the super sun. Crochet is bang on trend as is stretch lace. A short frock is great for showing off fabulous shoes too! Capture those vintage festival vibes.
With the turquoise sky, your footprints in the soft white sand and the salty smell of the sea, a dress which fits with the romance of the setting is all important. Go for glamorous Grecian draping to really capture the mood.
Another great style for a destination wedding is the backless bridal gown. To stay totally ahead of the curve add a bow at the small of your back. Bows are everywhere and vary in size from cute to statement. âSo show off your bronzed body with this top trend and look sizzling on the sand.
Being a modern bride doesnât mean you have to wear a fairytale dress, in fact you could choose not to wear a dress at all. No, that doesnât mean you have to have a naturist wedding! Wear a trouser suit or a jumpsuit instead. Complete the look with flats or heeled sandals. â
Whatever you choose you are bound to look stunning!
Need help with planning your destination wedding? Call our experts for a free consultation.
The roots of May Day can be traced back at least 2,000 years. The celebration as we know it in the UK today is the result of melding Pagan, Roman and Medieval traditions.
The Celts and British Pagan Heritage
New life and fertility with the coming of summer were marked by the ancient Celts with May Poles and dancing. The May Pole is a tall pole with coloured ribbons tied to the top. Originally the pole would have been a tree cut when it reached the correct height and with the branches cut off, a powerful symbol since the Celts worshipped trees. Young men and women would each hold a ribbon and would dance weaving in and out of each other to plait the ribbons into a complex patterns. The pole signified fertility and dancing around it was supposed to bring this benefit to the dancers.
The Celts divided their year by 4 major festivals. The first day of summer was called Beltane, 'the fire of Bel'. Bel was the sun god worshipped by Celts across Continental Europe, Britain and Ireland. Beltane was celebrated with bonfires to welcome the new season. Fire was believed to cleanse, purify and increase fertility. The Celts jumped over the fire to pledge themselves to each other. Animals were driven through the smoke to protect them from diseases. At Beltane, couples went A-Maying - spending the night in the woods, fields and brought back May and hawthorn blossoms as a sign of fertility and the new season.
In England this became May Day but in Scotland the festival is still known as Beltane. In Edinburgh the spectacle now includes fire displays, drumming, processions with pipe bands and plenty of body paint.
During the 300 year long Roman occupation of Britain the Floralia was celebrated. Flora was the goddess of flowers and spring and the festival in her honour was held for 6 days at the end of April. The celebration was for everyone, not just the nobility, and was all about pleasure, fertility and flowers. The festival included games and dancing so it is easy to see where the flowers, foliage and fun elements of modern British May Day stem from.
Morris dancers are traditional folk dancers. This form of dance dates back to Medieval times. The earliest written record of a Morris dancing performance in England is from 1448 but the origins of Morris are lost in the mists of time. Morris dancing used to be confined to male performers but nowadays both men and women take part. Traditionally dressed in white with strips of bells on their legs, colourful neckerchiefs and belts across their chests, Morris dancers perform jigs, kicks, jumps and set patterns. Morris dancers have become closely associated with May Day. Performing with wooden poles and handkerchiefs, they are a wonderful sight, especially on a village green on a sunny day.
Georgian Era and After May Day Customs
Jack-in-the-Green is a May Day character first recorded in 1770. The man playing Jack is dressed in a conical wicker or wooden framework covered in foliage. The look is completed with green face paint. The character is likely to have evolved from an earlier tradition of milkmaids carrying milk pails decorated with flowers. The use of foliage and flowers firmly associates this tradition with the spring/summer season and the fertility and new life it brings. The tradition went out of favour in the 20th century but has been recently revived and the Jack-in-the-Green features in several May Day celebrations in England.
Hobby horses (or 'Obby 'Osses) feature in festivals in Padstow and Minehead. Music accompanies the wild dancing of the 'osses which are men dressed in 6ft wide wooden hoops draped in black sailcloth and wearing fearsome masks. The origins of the tradition are not known but theories abound. The 'obby 'oss is a rainmaker, a fertility symbol or a deterrent to a landing by the French, or a welcome to summer, dependent on which legend you believe.
Another local festivity in early May is the Helston Floral Festival. This centuries old tradition is most likely to stem from the anniversary of the apparition of St Michael (patron saint of the parish church in Helston) on May 8th. Heralded by an early morning ringing of the church bells, Floral Day features the Furry Dance which weaves in and out of the streets and local houses. The male dancers dress in top hats and tails and the females in beautiful, colourful dresses. Flora Day also features the Hal-an-Tow, a mummers play where St George and St Michael slay the Dragon and the Devil. The players are cheered on by a crowd dressed in Lincoln green and Elizabethan robes.
As the dawn breaks in Dorset on May 1st, Morris Men dance on the site of the old maypole above the Cerne Abbot Giant. Local folklore has long held that the huge chalk figure carved into the hillside is an aid to fertility. The dancing moves to the village square, then a well-deserved breakfast.
Queen of the May is a girl who personifies springtime and summer on May Day. Traditionally she wears white to symbolise purity and a garland or crown. In some older village traditions, there was a Lord and Lady or King and Queen of the May. This custom persists in some areas of England but the Queen of the May is everywhere seen.
Places to Celebrate in Early May
To book your holiday at any UK celebrations of May Day, get in touch with our staycation experts.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO),"cultural and heritage attractions are key to tourism development in many countries around the world". Here at Tasteful Travel we agree.
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre defines heritage as “our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritages are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.” The concept of heritage has has come to mean more than the tangible, such as museums, historic sites and awe-inspiring landscapes. Now daily life and living history are equally important and serve as tourist attractions in themselves. In fact, experiential tourism, where you immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle as well as viewing the sights, is a growing trend.
This kind of cultural and heritage tourism can support local economic development as well as break down barriers between people. It can also safeguard heritage so that traditions as well as landmarks and natural habitats are preserved for posterity. Heritage tourism can be responsible and sustainable rather than suffocating cultural heritage. There are a huge number of UNESCO World Heritage sites and these now cover cultural landscapes, itineraries, industrial heritage, deserts, coastal-marine and small-island sites. These designations should help to preserve these habitats and living culture.
Cultural heritage is often brought to life in carnivals and other gala days. Local festivals and celebrations can be just as interesting as those known globally. I have fond memories of the Aloha Festival in Hana on Maui, watching the Greek Orthodox Easter procession in Kassiopi on Corfu, the Green Hop Festival in Canterbury and many more. These memories are just as vivid as seeing Sydney Opera House, the Acropolis and the Grand Canal in Venice. In fact our latest visit was to the Weald & Downland Living Museum, a place devoted to telling the stories of rural life in the South East of England. By rescuing and conserving historic buildings and teaching traditional crafts and trades they are kept alive and the history and culture of the area is preserved in a vibrant and fascinating way.
Another benefit of heritage tourism is that tourist numbers are spread more evenly through a region, rather than huge numbers of visitors honing in on individual iconic sites. Instead of queuing for space to watch the sun go down by the windmill in Oia, Santorini; trying to get a clear shot of the Taj Mahal; jostling to get a glimpse of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, Paris; squeezing down the alleys of Matchu Piccu; or elbowing the crowds in Venice, why not avoid the masses and visit nearby areas which are often equally interesting. Joining a cultural tour is a good way to find those hidden gems.
Don't just go on holiday, travel to experience your destination, bringing the past to life through the stories and lives of those around you.