International Museum Day Special: Britain’s Best Museums

A visit to Britain would not be complete without a visit to some of our world class museums. These include vast collections of ancient artefacts, wonderfully preserved historical sites, natural history exhibits and an infinite array of institutions dedicated to everything from football to lawnmowers, garden gnomes to witchcraft.

To celebrate International Museum Day, here’s a rundown of our top ten museums in Britain:

  1. British Museum, London
British museum
British museum

This is one of the world’s most famous and controversial museums. Dedicated to human history, art and culture the British Museum has a permanent collection of some 8 million works – you can get lost for days in here! From Egyptian Mummies to Parthenon marbles from the Acropolis of Athens and Easter Island statues, you can travel around the globe as you explore this enormous museum.

  1. Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum is one of the most popular in London. Probably most famous for the iconic diplodocus that dominates the entrance hall, you will also find animatronic dinosaurs, birds, creepy crawlies, gems and meteorites.

  1. The Roman Baths, Bath

Bath - Roman BathsThe Roman Baths at Bath is one of Britain’s best preserved Roman sites one of the most visited with around one million visitors each year. As well as the beautifully preserved ruins of the Great Bath, changing rooms and plunge pools, there is also an interactive museum which will transport you back in time to Roman Britain.

  1. The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

The National Museum of Scotland boasts a weird and wonderful array of exotic artefacts including a hippopotamus suspended from the rafters, a colour television dating from 1937 and an exotic bird stuffed by Charles Darwin. The wide ranging collection represents the diversity of thought and activity that came out of the Scottish Enlightenment.

  1. Churchill War Rooms, London

Hidden in the basement of a building in between Buckingham Palace and Westminster you will find Winston Churchill’s WW2 bunker and museum. Here you can walk in the footsteps of Churchill and glimpse what life would have been like during the tense days and nights of WW2. This bunker has been perfectly preserved exactly as it was left on the day the lights were switched off in 1945.

  1. Kelingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

This Glasgow art gallery and museum is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions and features 22 themed galleries which include natural history, arms and armour, art, history and more. The most famous painting on display is the Salvador Dali masterpiece ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ and other popular attractions include Sir Roger the Asian elephant and a real life Spitfire!

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  1. Beamish – The Living Museum of the North

This is a living, working museum set in 300 acres of picturesque Durham countryside where you can experience the Industrial Revolution first hand. The museum also plays hosts to a vast program of events throughout the year including the Georgian Fair, Classic Car Day, Harvest Festival and much, much more!

  1. Big Pit National Coal Museum, Wales

Okay, so a coal museum probably doesn’t really sound that exciting but the Big Pit is much more stimulating than it sounds. The former coal mine has been operating as a museum where you will descend into the earth for an underground tour and a walk through the mine’s tunnels.

  1. Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, Oxford

The world’s first university museum, The Ashmolean was founded in 1683 and now houses a world famous and extraordinarily diverse collection that ranges from Egyption mummies to contemporary art. Here you’ll find the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings, incredible Anglo-Saxon treasures and a collection of modern Chinese painting that is unrivalled throughout the Western world.

  1. National Football Museum, Manchester

National Football Museum, ManchesterAnd now for something completely different, the world’s largest museum dedicated purely to football (or soccer, if you prefer). The museum contains a fantastic mixture of stats, memorabilia and fun stuff including a radio commentary collection, the chance to lift a (virtual) trophy and plenty of interactive games!

 

Why not visit some of these fantastic museums on a road trip with adeo Travel. Try our Great Britain self-drive tour or even Great Britain by Rail.

Ten magical Scottish Islands to visit instead of Skye!

This morning we came into the office to yet another slew of enquiries for guests keen to visit the Scottish Isle of Skye, and it’s got us here at adeo Travel scratching our heads!

I mean, yes, the Isle of Skye is beautiful, yes, it’s full of wildlife, dramatic coastline and intriguing history. But, it is only one out of hundreds of incredible Scottish Islands – 790 to be exact – each one more spectacularly beautiful than the last.

So here are 8 alternative Scottish Islands to visit if you want to escape the crowds this summer and experience the wild and unspoilt beauty of the Scottish Isles.

  1. Islay
Isle of Islay
Isle of Islay

The ‘Queen of the Hebrides’ is probably best known for its whisky production. Despite its size, at just 600 square kilometres, this tiny island is home to eight working distilleries – it’s certainly the Whisky Capital of the Hebrides!

Visit if: You never say ‘no’ to a dram or two!

Don’t miss: Bowmore, the oldest distillery on Islay, founded over two centuries ago in 1779

  1. Jura

This island is famed for being where George Orwell retreated to write 1984 and literary buffs can still make a pilgrimage to the remote croft house where he lived. Orwell wanted to get away from it all and you can see why he chose wild, untamed Jura where wild deer outnumber people more than 10 to one.

Visit if: You’re a novelist having an existential crisis.

Don’t miss: The Corryvrecken Whirpool, one of the largest permanent whirlpools on earth and one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles.

  1. Harris

    Isle of Harris
    Isle of Harris

You might be surprised to learn that most visitors travel to this Outer Hebridian Island for its beaches. The dazzling white sands and turquoise waters surrounding the largest island in the Outer Hebrides are reminiscent of the Caribbean. With dozens of beaches to pick from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Visit if: You’re a bit of a beach bum

Don’t miss: The volcanic islands of St Kilda, the most remote Islands in the British Isles.

  1. Orkney

Actually Orkney consists of around 70 Islands but I’ll ignore that. I’m going to leave it to the poet and storyteller George Mackay Brown, who lived on Orkney at Stromness, to sell you his island home. He wrote ‘The essence of Orkney’s magic is silence, loneliness, and the deep marvellous rhythms of sea and land, darkness and light.’

Visit if: There is a hint of whimsy in your soul

Don’t miss: The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae which is thought to be older than Stonehenge and the pyramids.

  1. Iona
Iona abbey
Iona abbey

Iona is a mystical Island accessible only by foot-passenger ferry from Mull. The Island is infused with religious devotion and is known as ‘the cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland. Iona Abbey was founded by St Columba in 563 and continues to be an important site of worship and pilgrimage.

Visit if: You are in search of peace and restoration

Don’t miss: The Fairy Hill or Hill of Angels which has been the site of pagan and Christian rituals for centuries and has been strongly associated with the world of the supernatural.

  1. Arran

One of the most accessible islands, you can drive to Arran from Glasgow in a couple of hours. Despite being so close to the hustle and bustle of the mainland you will still be able to experience the relaxed, whimsical atmosphere of island life as well as the dramatic scenery and eclectic wildlife of the Inner Hebrides.

Visit if: You’re looking for a taste of the Islands of Scotland

Don’t miss: The spectacular Glenahdale Falls, accessed by walking through an Iron Age fort and Neolithic burial mounds known as The Giants Graves.

  1. Barra

    Barra airport
    Barra airport

Beautiful Barra is the most southerly of the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. it was the strong hold of the Clan MacNeil and you can visit their ancient seat, the ‘Castle in the Sea’, sitting on a rock islet in Castle Bay.

Visit if: Your name is MacNeil

Don’t miss: The island’s unique airstrip on Traigh Mor Beach.

  1. Mull

The third largest of the Scottish Isles and one of the most accessible as it is served by three ferries. This island boasts a huge variety of flora and fauna including Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Otters, Whales, Dolphins and Basking Sharks.

Visit if: You are a birder or a twitcher

Don’t miss: The brightly painted waterfront houses of Tobermory.

 

If you’re tempted by any of these alternative Islands why not visit them with adeo Travel. You can visit by car on our Scottish Islands Self-Drive tour or a small group tour such as Orkneys and Scottish Highlands.

Or email us for a completely bespoke tour of the Scottish Isles!

Walking in Shakespeare’s footsteps – 10 spots to explore the Bard in Britain

A visit to Britain is not complete without a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. This quintessentially English town in the heart of the Cotswolds is most famous for being the birth place of William Shakespeare and literary pilgrims can visit The Bard’s birthplace and his wife, Anne Hathaway’s, cottage.Stratford-upon-Avon

But real enthusiasts may choose to travel further afield to follow in the Bard’s footsteps across Britain. Here are 10 places to explore the legend of Shakespeare in Britain:

 

  1. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London

The Globe Theatre in London has been linked with Shakespeare through 400 years and 3 buildings. The first building, constructed in 1597, burnt down in 1613 when a cannon set fire to the thatched roof during a performance of Henry VIII. The theatre was rebuilt, but in 1642 The Puritans banned all stage plays and the theatre was turned into tenement housing. In 1997 a faithful reconstruction of The Globe was built close to the original site in Southwark. You can visit the theatre, explore the Shakespeare exhibition and even see a performance.

  1. The National Portrait Gallery, London

The first acquisition of London’s National Portrait Gallery in 1856 was the ‘Chandos’ portrait of Shakespeare, attributed to artist John Taylor. It’s now considered the only representation of the writer that has any claim to having been painted from life.

  1. Hampton Court Palace, London

London - Hampton CourtIn 1603 Shakespeare and his players were summoned to Hampton Court to provide entertainment during the royal Christmas celebrations. They were lodged at the palace for three weeks and performed 7 plays in the Great Hall. So, if you’d like to stand in one of the only remaining theatrical spaces in which Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime, visit Hampton Court Palace.

  1. Windsor, Buckinghamshire

The historic town of Windsor is the backdrop for Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor. The events that unfurl take place in the town with many local landmarks featured in the play including The Castle, Frogmore, the Thames and the Garter Inn. It is likely that Shakespeare himself stayed at the Inn which has now been replaced by a hotel – stay here and you really will be following in The Bard’s footsteps.

  1. Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire

Broughton Castle is a moated and fortified manor house in Oxfordshire. Built in 1300 and fortified by its then lord, Broughton Castle has stood the test of time, despite being captured during the English Civil War. You might recognise it as one of the locations in British film Shakespeare in Love.

  1. Milford Haven, Wales

This coastal town in Pembrokeshire, Wales was described by Shakespeare as ‘blessed Milford’, and is the setting for his play 1611 romantic play, Cymbeline.

  1. Glamis Castle, Scotland

Dundee - Glamis CastleShakespeare chose this castle with its dark and bloody history of murder and witchcraft as the backdrop for his darkest play, Macbeth. As Thane of Glamis, Shakespeare’s Macbeth resides in the castle and many believe it is where he famously murders King Duncan. Duncan’s Hall commemorates King Duncan’s death at the hands of Macbeth.

  1. Bosworth Field, Kent

The Battle of Bosworth, referred to in King Richard III, is where Richard III famously speaks the words ‘A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!’. The site can be visited by public footpath and the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre is well worth a visit.

  1. The White Cliffs of Dover, Kent

Dover - White CliffsShakespeare famously brought the cliffs to the attention of the nation in the play King Lear in which the climax takes place on and around Dover’s white cliffs. You can take a stroll along Shakespeare Beach which stretches West from Admiralty Pier to Shakespeare Cliff, Dover’s most impressive cliff.

  1. The Forest of Arden, Warwickshire

The ancient Forest of Arden is the setting for one of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, As You Like It. In the play, Rosalind flees to the Forest of Arden, likely based on Arden Forest which was situated near Shakespeare’s hometown in Warwickshire. The oldest oak in the forest has a girth of 9.2 meters and is estimated to be 1000 years old.

Follow Shakespeare’s footsteps through Britain with one of our self-drive tours like the English and Scottish experience or Castles and Manors of Britain.

Great British Slang

Welcome to Britain! We at Adeo Travel are chuffed to hear you’ve got your bespoke holiday sorted.
Didn’t understand that? Let me translate for you – what I meant was ‘We are happy to hear you’ve got your custom-made vacation organised.’ Congratulations, you’ve just had your first lesson in British slang!

That’s right, even though we may speak English, there can often be a language barrier in every day conversation during your stay in Britain – this blog will aim to make you an expert in British slang!

Below is a list of our 20 favourite British slang words and their definitions:

  • Biscuit – Cookie
  • Bloody – Damn
  • Blimey – My Goodness
  • Chap – Man
  • Chips – French Fries
  • Dodgy – Suspicious
  • Fancy – Like
  • Fortnight – Two Weeks
  • Fiver – £5
  • Fit – Attractive
  • Knackered – Tired
  • Loo – Toilet
  • Lorry – Truck
  • Mate – Friend
  • Mobile Phone – Cell Phone
  • Motorway – Freeway
  • Nicked – Stolen
  • Pants – Underwear
  • Petrol – Gasoline
  • Plastered – Drunk
  • Quid – Pounds Sterling (£)
  • Rubbish – Garbage
  • Shambles – Disaster
  • Telly – TV
  • Tenner – £10british-flag-wallpaper-604x270

As you can see this is quite an elaborate list and these are only our favourites! Of course, we are exaggerating slightly – conversation with British folk will be a breeze.
British people are renowned for being welcoming and polite individuals so there is no need to worry!

To fully embrace British culture, be sure to visit Great Britain with us. England, Scotland, Wales and their slang are excited to see you – what are you waiting for?!

Happy Hogmanay! What’s Hogmanay?

It will soon be time to say Happy New Year to all our readers, or as they may say in Scotland – Happy Hogmanay! So Hogmanay is just a Scottish word for New Year’s Eve? Far from it! Hogmanay is an entire festival in its own right – and as with many of Scotland’s cultural events it comes with its own array of unique traditions which the Scottish people take very seriously…! Here we thought we’d answer a few questions about this particular Scottish festival…

Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle at Hogmanay.
Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle at Hogmanay.

So there is a big party, right? The evening of Hogmanay is of course celebrated in the way Scots know best – with lots of music, spectacle, dancing and perhaps a nip of whisky. Edinburgh is a focal point for celebration with an organised ticketed street-party taking place in recent years, however previously an unofficial gathering would take place on the Royal Mile around the old Tron Church – with the clock of ancient tower decidedly unreliable chaos would ensue around midnight with various groups celebrating at different times and on different count-downs!

Is Hogmanay just celebrated in Edinburgh? No, celebrations take-place up and down the country and are not immune to local and regional twists. In Stonehaven near Aberdeen, giant balls of mesh filled with flammable material attached to chains are lit upon the tolling of the midnight bells and swung around the heads of the marchers who parade up and down the High Street. Think that’s strange? On the Isle of Orkney it is said there used to be a tradition where the man-folk took turns to don the remains of a burnt out cow’s head – why, no one is quite sure… The Highland city of Inverness and historic Stirling both opted for more traditional festivities and hosted magnificent music concerts this year.

Dancing to Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay.
Dancing to Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay.

Is there one thing which is done across Scotland? Wherever the celebrations take place, you can guarantee to hear the familiar tune of Auld Lang Syne! This traditional Scots poem, penned by famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, will be boomed out of every pub and inn throughout Scotland as people link arms to dance and sing-along. And of course this is a tradition not only also adopted in England and Wales but exported across the world! But as the Scots will tell you, it’s only done properly in Scotland.

And after midnight and the singing ends, the festival is over? Not a chance! First-footing is an old custom which remains observed today whereby people go to visit friends and neighbours after midnight. You should of course come bearing gifts and if your first visitor (or first-footer) is a tall, dark man with lump of coal then that is particularly lucky (obviously!).

Dooking in Edinburgh at Hogmanay
Dooking in Edinburgh at Hogmanay

But you can rest on New Year’s Day, right? Erm, not exactly. Unless you consider going for a swim in the sea relaxing – bearing in mind this is January and you’re in Scotland! Recent years have seen a resurrection of this old tradition known as “Dooking” whereby people gather to go for a nice dip in Scotland’s icy coastal waters on New Year’s Day. The aptly named “Looney Dook” in South Queensferry in Edinburgh is now a recognised part of the city’s Hogmanay celebrations and many swear it is the ultimate antidote for the excesses of the previous night – we’ll take their word for it!

New year’s Day is of course a public holiday across the UK, however, uniquely in Scotland, January 2nd is also a public holiday which means most people enjoy an extra day off work. Some people in England and Wales are jealous of this whilst others simply believe, after all that ritual, they deserve it!