World Guides Travel Blog

June 2015

This is where we let you know all about what's going on with our website and the world of travel, with destination reviews, current travel news and topical travel-related stuff to discuss with your friends. Please let us know if you want to comment on anything - Contact us.

June 27, 2015


Image showing the crowds at the Glasto Pop Festival, Glastonbury, Somerset, England, UKWhen it comes to weather, the UK's top festival at Glastonbury has had a mixed history. Occasionally, the sun shines; more often than not, though, the heavens open and the famous festival fields are churned into a mud bath. This year, things got off to a good start, with early festival-goers discarding wellies in favour of flip flops.

Come rain or come shine, over the course of the weekend, 170,000 people are expected to arrive at Glastonbury Festival. They'll transform Worthy Farm and the surrounding fields into something that looks more like a tented city than a quiet dairy farm in the heart of sleepy Somerset.

And yet, that is essentially what it is. With the exception of a few days at the end of June, the farm's fields are usually the home of a herd of prize-winning dairy cows. Opening the gates of Worthy Farm to the festival-going public some forty-five years ago has transformed the life of Festival founder Michael Eavis. These days, he finds himself juggling a busy farming career with the frenetic life of a Festival organiser.

When the festival has finished, and the last of the tents have been cleared from the site, Michael Eavis will go back to his day job. The cows will return. In the meantime, as this year's Festival fever grows on Worthy Farm, a fresh bank of clouds has scurried across the skies, threatening the odd splash of rain. For those who only brought flip flops, that could be bad news.

Posted by Sue at 19:33:00 on 27/6/2015

June 20, 2015


Photo of the famous Cheddar Gorge, located within the Mendip Hills, Somerset, England, UKThis Sunday, my alarm clock will go off at an unreasonably early hour and I shan't even grumble. Why? Because here in the northern hemisphere the 21st June will mark the longest day and, this year, I plan to celebrate it in style. I will be joining dozens of other walkers and runners in a relay adventure to negotiate the 117-mile / 188-km long Mendip Ring in Somerset, finishing up near Cheddar Gorge just in time to watch the sun rise on solstice morning. I can't wait.

There are plenty of other ways to celebrate the summer solstice. Perhaps the best known is a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, which traditionally welcomes thousands of druids, tourists and revellers each year. These days, English Heritage who manage the historic site, keep a firm hand on the event. What it does offer, though, is a chance to gain open access to Stonehenge and get up close and personal with its famous stones - something that isn't possible for the rest of the year.

If huge crowds aren't your thing, a visit to another World Heritage Site - the stone circle at Avebury - might be better. Avebury's prehistoric circle is the largest in Europe and was constructed in Neolithic times. The site was excavated in the 1930s.

Of course, the summer solstice isn't the preserve of the British. Every year, events are staged all over the world. This year's include a festival in Reykjavik, Iceland. In New York, early risers will unroll their mats at dawn to perform a whole day of yoga in Times Square, amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. The Festival of St. Joan on the Spanish island of Menorca won't be quite so relaxing. It features bonfires and fireworks, as well as music and dancing and some pretty frantic displays of horse riding.

There is one thing that can scupper the summer solstice and that is a covering of very English clouds, which threaten to ruin the chance of a good photo. Thankfully, Sunday's weather forecast here in Somerset is looking good.

Posted by Sue at 10:57:16 on 20/6/2015

June 13, 2015


Skyline photo of New York, showing the waterfront and skyscrapersThis summer, visitors to New York will be able to experience a panoramic view of the city like no other. Not from a helicopter, as you would expect, but from somewhere closer to earth. The One World Observatory is New York's latest tourist attraction. And whilst it is only been open for two weeks, it has already welcomed a record number of visitors through its doors.

The observatory is based on three floors of the One World Trade Centre, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, and built on the site of the former Twin Towers. This immense skyscraper is the sort of place that makes you want to reel off all sorts of statistics. For a start it is currently the fourth tallest building in the world and the tallest in New York. It has five elevators, called Sky Pods. Visitors are whisked up in them to the 102nd floor in less than 60 seconds. If you include the spire, the building reaches a height of 1,776 feet. That figure is no coincidence; 1776 is, of course, the year when the US Declaration of Independence was signed. By all accounts, the construction bill comes to well over $3 billion. That is an awful lot of money.

Money won't be something that concerns most visitors to the One World Observatory. Instead, they'll be too busy taking in the city below and the plethora of innovative technologies at their disposal, including the Discovery Level, Sky Portal and City Pulse. The latter allows visitors (known as 'guests') to interact with the landmarks that surround them. I'm sure that few will come away feeling uninspired. There is, after all, nothing like a good view to get the heart racing.

Posted by Sue at 16:05:35 on 13/6/2015

June 6, 2015


Picture of crowds at the Hay FestivalLast Sunday, I arrived, along with fifteen other West Country writers, in a Welsh field. The wind was threatening to whip off our hats. Our umbrellas were in danger of being swept over the Brecon Beacons and beyond. Did we care? Not a jot. We had arrived in Hay-on-Wye at what is acknowledged as one of the biggest literary gatherings in Britain - the Hay Festival. What is more, ahead of us was a whole day of literary musings to enjoy. As we clambered off the minibus, the excitement was palpable.

The field in question is surrounded by mountains. That is easy to forget when you are intent on negotiating a maze of walkways between giant tents to head to your next event. As any Hay veteran will tell you; planning ahead is vital. I had booked to go to two talks. The first was to listen to the author Rick Stroud talking about a daring World War Two raid on the Greek island of Greek by British forces. The second was an hour with William Nicholson waxing lyrical about Emily Dickinson, an American poet who is remarkably little known this side of the Atlantic.

Image showing a decorated shop window in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, WalesWith two talks under my belt, it was hard to resist the lure of what was going on away from the said Welsh field. It is easy to get into town; a bus scuttles regularly between the Festival site and the town. Alternatively, a brisk, if wet, walk took me to the heart of the town. Bearing in mind the size of the festival, Hay itself is remarkably small.

Photo showing the historic Hay Castle
It is best known for the vast numbers of book sellers that have set up shop there. Once in the town, the atmosphere was lively. Near the Butter Market, a folksy band drew a crowd. In the al fresco cafe set up for the duration of the Festival within the grounds of Hay Castle, you could combine coffee drinking with book browsing - never a bad combination.

Would I go again? Most definitely. In fact, it is already in my diary. So too is the date of the Hay Festival Winter Weekend - 27th to 29th November - a book festival that operates on a smaller scale, but which promises the same amount of literary inspiration, only with a sprinkling of festive magic - and, one would hope, less wind.

Posted by Sue at 19:01:44 on 6/6/2015