The grand, the hip and the heritage – a shopping tour of London

With Christmas fast approaching, a shopping trip to London makes a great day out, and a surprisingly affordable one, if you’re visiting from abroad, due to the favourable exchange rate. Here’s a quick tour of the different shopping neighbourhoods of London and what they each have to offer.

Selfridges, Oxford St in London Photo by

Selfridges, Oxford St in London

Oxford Street for the big name brands

Let’s start with the more renowned places to visit. Oxford Street is situated right in the centre of the city and is home to all the famous chain stores as well as a large number of independent fashion outlets and the flagship Selfridges department store. While Oxford Street has something for everyone, nearby Regent Street will suit the more affluent shopper and offers a wide array of excellent jewellery stores, upmarket boutiques and the Liberty store for unique prints and gifts. The Apple store is also situated in Regent Street as is Hamleys, a fantastic toy store over five floors and a great place to take the kids! Adjacent to Regent Street is Carnaby Street, which came to life as the place to hang out in the 60s and nowadays still has a vaste number of independent shops, offering all manner of clothes, shoes, music and general paraphernalia dating back to that era.

Unique gifts at Liberty Regent Street, London Photo by DG Jones on Flickr

Unique gifts at Liberty Regent Street, London

Speciality shops in Kensington, Luxury in Knightsbridge

Heading south west across the city, we reach the trendy borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Here we find the King’s Road, a meeting point for punks in the 70s and still considered an in-place to visit and shop. Again, we find a large number of independent retailers in this long street offering everything from fashion and design wear to furniture and music outlets. Peter Jones is a large department store at the Sloane Square end of Kings Road offering quality clothes and goods. Nearby Kensington High Street, close to the Royal home of Kensington Palace is also a great place for some retail therapy with a good selection of different shops. Not too far away in Knightsbridge is the famous Harrods Department store which is reputed to be able to sell you anything you may wish for! The food section in Harrods is excellent with many different types of meats, cheeses and fruits to buy and after a hard morning of shopping your way through this huge department store, the Georgian Restaurant offers an excellent afternoon tea at very affordable prices.

Harrods Food Hall Photo by rc! on Flickr

Harrods Food Hall in London

Visit neighbourhood markets for local flavour

Markets are a great way to pick up a bargain and to interact with locals at the same time and London offers a number of different markets through the week. Camden Lock (Sundays) and Portobello Market (Saturdays) are two of the more well known markets however certain other markets are also very interesting for both locals and tourists. Petticoat Lane Market (Sundays) located near Aldgate in London’s East End offers a wide range of clothes, household goods and general bric-a-brac. Old Spitalfields Market, likewise in the East of London is one of London’s oldest markets and is open all week, specialising on different goods each day. Near to Spitalfields is Brick Lane, home to some of London’s best curry houses and a great place to stop for lunch with a difference!

Clothing and Vintage at Camden Lock Sunday Market Photo:

Clothing and Vintage at Camden Lock Sunday Market

More things to see in London:

Three Great Ways to spend a day in London
A winter break in London – things to enjoy at Christmas and into the New Year
Your guide to the vintage markets of London

LDH LOGO 150x150(1)This article was brought to you by, a one-stop shop web portal for hotels, tickets, transfers and sightseeing tours in London.

Photo Credits: Selfridges by, Liberty of London by DG Jones, Harrods Food Hall by rc!, Camden Lock by

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Take an Autumn break in Cornwall – Coastal walks, surfing and you might see a basking shark

Cornwall is a popular choice with travellers during summer months but the characteristically mild period of autumn is also a fantastic time to visit the county. In fact, for those who know this part of the world well, it‘s often the preferred time to visit. There is simply something about autumn in Cornwall that can’t be beaten; the colours are spectacular, the sea is at its warmest and our favourite bit – you don’t have to battle with the crowds. So as Cornwall prepares for autumn, here we share with you a selection of our favourite things to do and see there:

Take a Coastal Walk

With fascinating mining landscapes and dramatic sea views, walking the coast path in Cornwall is a treat which is hard to equal. We especially enjoy the stretch between Hayle point and Godrevy Lighthouse, where it’s possible to walk on dunes, long stretches of sand and enjoy scrambling along those characteristic craggy granite cliffs. The views across St Ives bay are ever changing and dramatic, and the beach café at Godrevy makes a wonderful spot to stop for a warming hot chocolate afterwards.

Spectacular views towards Godrevy Lighthouse Photo: Tim Green on Flickr

Spectacular views towards Godrevy Lighthouse

Catch some Waves

Autumn is famously the time when Cornwall gets the best ‘swell’ and the waves are much less crowded than during the summer months. In fact whether you’re a complete beginner or an absolute pro you will be able to find some surf at the perfect size for your ability. Even if the weather looks less inviting we encourage you to give it a go. The sea has had all summer to warm up and with a decent wetsuit you’ll be able to splash around for hours without even thinking of catching a chill. If you don’t fancy surfing though you could try a spot of wild swimming and still get that wonderful refreshing feeling, with tingly skin and salt in your hair.

Surfers enjoy the Autumn Swell Photo: Dave Hamster on Flickr

Surfers enjoy the Autumn Swell

Explore Cornwall’s Thriving Art Scene

Cornwall has long been a haven for artists and as such is home to a cluster of very good Art galleries and museums. The Tate St Ives is probably Cornwall’s best known gallery but the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, also found in St Ives, is exceptional too.  The Newlyn Art Gallery features an interesting range of changing contemporary exhibitions and the Falmouth Art Gallery houses a range of stunning works on oil, paper and beyond. Visiting any of these galleries is a smart move if the weather takes a turn for the worse and again you can enjoy them at this time of year without the crowds of summer.

The Tate St Ives which overlooks lovely Porthmeor beach Photo: Martin Pettitt on Flickr

The Tate St Ives which overlooks lovely Porthmeor beach

Look for Whales Basking Sharks and Dolphins

One of our favourite things about Cornwall is how wild it is and what better way to pay testament to that than by getting out on the water to spot some of the creatures that live there. Many wonderful species of animals live in the water off the coast of Cornwall and there are a range of reputable companies that will take you to spot them. Of course, as they are wild animals nothing is guaranteed, but we think this rather adds to the adventure. When you do catch sight of a breaching porpoise, the peculiar looking sun fish, or encounter a majestic basking shark it makes the experience all the more memorable.

A dip with a majestic basking shark of the coast of Cornwall Photo: Candiche on Flickr

A dip with a majestic basking shark of the coast of Cornwall

See a Show at the Hall for Cornwall

When you’re looking for some evening entertainment the Hall for Cornwall in Truro will provide just the solution. They have everything there from ballet and contemporary Dance, to live music, theatre and comedy. The Theatre is a real beacon on the Cornish arts scene and provides entertainment at a level that can rival that which you will find in any other British City. We love stopping off at the Old Grammar School, which is a great cocktail bar nearby, for a drink beforehand and making an evening of it.

Finding somewhere to stay is never a problem as there are a whole range of options to suit every budget, from convenient campsites at Newquay, to lovely holiday cottages in Falmouth, great B&B’s in St Ives and smart hotels at Mawgan Porth. The good news is that autumn often means reduced rates too as the peak period has passed. Autumn is a magical time to enjoy the county, so come and explore Cornwall away from the crowds and see what all the fuss is about.

This article is brought to you by Country View Cottages  providers of Luxury Holiday Cottages in Cornwall.

More things to see in Devon and Cornwell

Cliff walks and country houses – in Cornwall (and a bit of Devon)
Free and family friendly holiday activities in Devon
A visit to Padstow and a walk through the dunes to St Enodoc

Photo Credits: Godrevey Lighthouse by Tim Green, Surfers by Dave Hamster, The Tate St Ives by Martin Pettitt, Basking shark by Candiche,

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Just me and the boys down on the farm – our weekend at Bosinver Farm Cottages in Cornwall – video

Teenage boys can be notoriously difficult to please, so I wasn’t quite sure what my sixteen year old son and his two friends would make of Bosinver Farm Cottages in Cornwall. We arrive in darkness, having made the Friday night dash after work, driving down from Bristol with a car full of wellies, walking boots, plenty of chocolate biscuits and the Monopoly board.

Coastal Path near Polkerris beach in Cornwall Photo:

Coastal Path near Polkerris beach in Cornwall

Turning into the  Bosinver drive we follow the lane  through a hamlet of cottages and houses of different sizes which seem less like converted farm buildings and more like a small residential enclave. Our house, Cherry (next to Apple and Pear) is a single storey bungalow which comfortably sleeps 6 people, and we’re soon unloaded and making ourselves at home. Before you can say “Put the kettle on”, the boys are watching football on the flat screen TV and have the music on full blast through the iPod Dock. So far so good.

I hope you enjoy the video below of Bosinver Farm Cottages

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Kitchen at Bosinver Farm Cottages Photo:

Kitchen at Bosinver Farm Cottages

First impressions are positive. Our cottage is spacious and well-designed, with every home comfort you could wish for, and  someone has obviously had great fun putting together the colourful furnishings.  There’s a mixture of modern and vintage furniture, lots of Designer’s Guild, and funky ornaments all around the place that give our cottage bags of character. I’m in the master bedroom with lime green patterned curtains and duvet cover and an en suite bathroom so that I don’t have to battle with the boys for mirror space first thing in the morning. The three boys disperse themselves between the two twin bedrooms, one in bright yellow and green, the other in pink and red stripes with cheerful bunting strung above the beds, as if we’re at the village fete.

Our cottage "Cherry" at Bosinver Farm Cottages in Cornwall Photo:

Our cottage “Cherry” at Bosinver Farm Cottages in Cornwall

The living area is open plan taking up half of the ground floor, with a well-equiped kitchen at one end, a pine table which is laid out for breakfast, an open fireplace with a stove and leather sofas positioned to watch the flat screen TV. It would be a great place to stay for families who want to holiday together or multi-generational groups who want a bit of their own space in different cottages but the chance to easily gather together.

I wake up the next morning to find a pair of black and white horses munching the grass in the field outside my window. Eventually the boys emerge and set off to try out the indoor swimming pool which was only built this year. The glass walled pool area gives onto a terrace with oversized curvy outdoor chairs, overlooking the tennis court. If only we were there in summer, rather than chilly October, we’d be lounging around with a cold drink, pretending we were in the South of France. While the boys alternately splash around then sit under the hot showers, I take a look around the rest of the farm. I discover a colourful play barn for little ones, with a couple of exercise machines too – now dad can keep fit on the running machine while the little ones are wearing themselves out on the slide and climbing equipment.

Bosinver Farm Cottages Photo:

Bosinver Farm Cottages Top L Swimming Pool, Top R Secret the horse, Bot R Play Barn Bot L Feeding the ducks

I pop into the reception area at the top of the drive to get some suggestions from Bosinver owner Pat Smith (known to younger farm visitors as Nanny Pat) for a walk to keep us busy for the rest of the day. I have in mind a couple of hours along a cliff path, a stroll on the beach and a nice cafe or pub to have lunch or tea at the end. Pat takes in my requirements, digs out a book of 35 Cornish coastal walks from the pile that are available to borrow and sends us off  to Polkerris beach, about 20 minutes drive from Bosinver. Parking a little way up the hill from the beach, we walk down past the pub and pretty cottages to find the sheltered cove, with cliffs rising on either side and a sea wall making a protective arm to shelter small boats.

Our walk from Polkerris to Gribbin point Photo:

Our walk from Polkerris to Gribbin point

We take the footpath up the hill through a beech wood to the top of the cliffs and follow the path through the fields with the sea on our right. Every so often there’s a gap where you can peer down to a rocky cove although the cliff edge is protected by a hedge of brambles and gorse. We reach Gribbin head with a red and white striped daymarker tower that sailors use to take a bearing and guide their boats into the Fowey estuary. It looks like a red and white lighthouse and is open on some Sundays for a climb to the top, I imagine it’s challenging on the legs but the views must be amazing.

View from Gribbin Head to Polridmouth cove Photo:

View from Gribbin Head to Polridmouth cove

We walk down through a herd of cows towards Polridmouth cove, close to where the writer Daphne du Maurier lived at Menabilly. She leased the large Georgian house from the local Rashleigh family and lived there for 25 years, using it as the setting on Manderlay in her famous novel, Rebecca. We walk past the gate to the church at Menabilly where the blue hydrangeas are blooming, a flower of Cornwall that I always associate with dried flower arrangement in old country houses.

Lunch at Sam's on the beach, Polkerris, Cornwall Photo:

Lunch at Sam’s on the beach, Polkerris, Cornwall

For a little way we follow the Saints’ Way, an old pilgrimage path that crosses from the south coast of Cornwall at Fowey to the north coast at Padstow. Crossing the field we walk down through the wood to Polkerris and settle on one of the outdoor tables at Sam’s on the Beach.  This informal cafe is an offshoot from their popular restaurant at Fowey and occupies a prime position right on the sand in an old lifeboat station with a glass wall overlooking the beach. With perfect timing, the sun breaks through the clouds and we sit in the sunshine eating very good pizzas cooked in a wood fired oven, which pretty much defeat us in their size. There are some alternative places to eat in Polkerris at the Rashleigh Inn which is right opposite Sam’s and the Polka dot café with a small “bucket and spade” shop and and art gallery, the Gribbin Gallery above. I imagine that in August the place is heaving, but out of season with the sun shining it’s just perfect for me.

Boats bobbing in the Fowey estuary Photo:

Boats bobbing in the Fowey estuary

We drive on the short distance into Fowey, a small harbour town that hugs the hillside, overlooking the sheltered estuary that offers a haven for sailors. It’s full of those shops that sell you pretty things for the home, gifts with a nautical theme that you never knew you needed and plenty of Cornish clotted cream fudge. The water taxis are heading back and forth across the estuary, and we eat our ice creams watching the sailing boats bobbing up and down, before climbing back up the hill to the car park and heading back to Bosinver. Back at the cottages the boys enjoy another swim and try out the sauna, while the cottage is a pleasure to spend the evening in, like home only nicer, cleaner and fresher.

Bosinver Farm Cottages: Feeding the animals Photo:

Bosinver Farm Cottages: Feeding the animals

On Sunday morning we join a large crowd of parents with their toddlers to feed the animals in the small farmyard beside the swimming pool. Farmer Dave (Pat’s husband Dave Smith) has the routine sorted and the little ones squeal in delight as the ducks and hens run around them, although there are a few tears when Chalkie the goat grabs at his milk bottle a bit too hard. Even my hard to please 16 year olds have a great time, with the ducks and geese pecking grain from their hand. Farmer Dave gives them the task of keeping Chalkie the goat under control on his lead, which is easier said than done as he has the strength to pull you off your feet if he thinks there’s food to be found. We all troop over to the field and finish the session by watching Dan the moorland pony be fed from his bucket, while the younger ones hold him on a leading rein. We rather wish we could stay another day to have a ride on Secret, the white pony who’s kept in the next field and likes to have his nose stroked.

We pack up and leave Bosinver Farm Cottages by late morning, stopping at The Eden Project for a few hours on the way home. I’ve always wanted to see this most popular of Cornish attractions, with its much photographed biomes, built 15 years ago on the site of an old  china clay quarry. The project is all about the way plants and crops are used to create the world we live in and is run as an educational charity. We walk down on winding paths through the hillside gardens and spend our first hour in the Rainforest biome.

The Eden Project in Cornwall Photo:

The Eden Project in Cornwall

The hot and steamy atmosphere soon has us stripped down to t-shirts and we follow the paths through the lush tropical plants, past pools and West African totems, a Malaysian wooden house and along a walkway that take us up through the tree canopy. There’s a waterfall cascading down the side of the rock and we climb up on swaying metal steps to the platform that hangs high above the biome, where it makes you dizzy to look down.

The Eden Project in Cornwall Photos:

The Eden Project in Cornwall

We stop in the outdoor cafe to refuel with a Cornish pasty before tackling the Mediterranean biome where the climate is much more temperate and there’s another small cafe serving paella and other food of the region. The exotic pink protea is flowering in South Africa, while the Harley Davidson is off on a road trip through California, and the Dionysus scultures of a bull and revellers are dancing in an intoxicated celebration of the wine god. Before we leave we stop at The Core, an educational hub where a mechanical contraption demonstrates how it literally does take a sledgehammer to crack a hazelnut and we walk around The Seed, a 75 ton egg shaped sculture carved from a single piece of Cornish granite.

By late afternoon we’re heading back to Bristol after our very enjoyable weekend in Cornwall. Bosinver Farm Cottages has given us a wonderful base to explore the cliff paths and beaches of South Cornwall and proved that you’re never too old or too cool to feed the chickens.

Bosinver Farm Cottages: Stay, Play and Discover the magic
Trelowth, St Austell, Cornwall, PL26 7DT, Tel: 01726 72128 E-mail:

There are 20 separate cottages on the farm sleeping between 3 and 12 people. We stayed in Cherry with 3 bedrooms for 6 people. In November a 3 night weekend stay costs around £310 and a week’s stay around £535. In high season of July and August a week will cost around £1770. Short breaks are available from mid September to mid May.

My thanks to Bosinver Farm Cottages who hosted our weekend stay.

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