The previously underrated staycation has been becoming increasingly popular in recent years.
This popularity has come about through a new-found enthusiasm to explore the areas of beauty that lie on our doorstep, paired with financial strain for many to afford trips abroad.
We often dismiss our home country and the UK more broadly as paling in comparison to the excitement of countries we haven’t yet visited in Europe or further afield.
However, it’s likely that there’s lots of hidden gems in the UK that you haven’t yet visited and may be pleasantly surprised by when you take a closer look.
While a trip abroad to Europe or America or even further out, may by default feel more appealing and exotic to you, there are many perks to staycationing. And Easter break is the perfect opportunity.
So, if you’ve been mulling over a UK staycation, read on…
1. Avoid Foreign Currency
Forget the last minute rush to the bureau de exchange and the disappointment at post-Brexit exchange rates. For a staycation you only need to save up your cash!
This means no embarrassing sifting through foreign coins and notes at checkouts and restaurants or worries that your debit card might get blocked when you need to use it. Avoiding the stress of foreign currency will mean you can reach a level of relaxation you just don’t achieve when you traverse lands afar!
2. No Language Barrier
Not all restaurants abroad are so accommodating as to have their menus in English.
If the thoughts of trying to decipher a menu in French or Italian and inevitably ordering the wrong meal has you in a cold sweat, at least that’s one thing you’ll get to avoid on a staycation.
The same goes for when you get lost and have to ask a confused looking local directions, in English, to where you need to go!
The biggest challenge that your staycation will pose will be deciphering local dialects whether that’s Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh or the plethora of varying English accents; embrace the wealth of interesting accents the UK has to offer.
3. Cost Effective
Perhaps one of the main attractions to a staycation is how much cheaper it is than going further afield. This is likely to resonate strongly with large families and how costs multiply per person.
Staycationing will help in avoiding tourist traps and paying hiked up prices. Booking things in advance and making use of offers on Groupon will also help in making it into a cost effective trip.
4. No Long Travel Times
You won’t have to worry about the strife of impending jet lag after a long flight. You might even get to dodge the whole rigmarole of the airport if you’re going somewhere within driving or train/bus distance.
Getting to where you want to be for your staycation will, overall, be a relatively painless and quick process meaning you can get into the holiday spirit all the sooner!
5. Weather You're Used To
It's obviously fantastic to get away to a hot country and soak up the sunshine for a few days. And while you may not necessarily get the same level of warm weather on a UK staycation, at least there are no high expectations for the weather!
There's nothing worse than getting to a hot country where you're expecting long days of sunshine only to step off the plane into an overcast day.
Whether you’re cooking for one, two or even more, figuring out what to have for your meals from week to week can be a difficult task. This is where meal planning comes in handy. Planning ahead and getting organised when it comes to meal times will save you lots of time, energy, money, potentially help you stay healthier by avoiding those takeaways AND minimise food waste.
The problem with meal planning is that many people don’t even know where to begin. To help you get started and inspire a few ideas we’ve put together a few meal planning tips that will hopefully make your life that little bit easier!
1. Get excited about cooking
Make a list of your favourite meals and start researching new recipes to supplement your old favourites. Pinterest is great for finding new and exciting recipes that you might not have ever tried before. Just looking at the photos of the meals and trying out new methods of cooking is bound to inspire you with meal planning ideas and get you excited about cooking. This will make the prospect of meal planning all the more manageable!
2. Make a Budget
Next up is to make a list of ingredients garnered from your recipe compilation along with prices which you can total off to see if it’s within your budget. Having this list ready to bring with you on your next shop will help to stave off impulse buys, detours to the local takeaway and keep you within your budget from week to week.
3. Put together a meal planning calendar
You have the ingredients now it’s time to start planning when you’re going to make the meals. Ask yourself what leftovers can be eaten for the next couple of day’s lunches and what can be frozen for future use. Sorting out all these details that you might have overlooked before you started meal planning will help you avoid discovering that forgotten bag of off potatoes or the out of date remains of a loaf of bread.
4. Cook components of meals
Preparing and freezing components of meals for future use is a great way of saving time when it comes to cooking meals. This could be preparing tomato sauces for use in pasta and lasagna dishes or having pre-chopped veg and herbs ready to be thrown into a dish.
5. Keep an eye on supermarket sales
Many find that they make savings by planning their meals each week around what’s on sale in the supermarkets. It can be worth keeping an eye on what’s on sale and if it’s a cheaper alternative to what you would usually buy then why not avail of the offer? However, it is dependent on your tastes, you or your family might not necessarily like what’s on offer one week or you might find the savings aren’t worth compromising on brands you rely on and trust.
It’s that time of the year when the trees are decorated, presents are exchanged, friends meet and family time is spent curled up on the sofa watching heart-warming festive movies.
It’s important to remember how blessed we are, to have family around, a roof over your head and delicious, bountiful food to feast on. There are others who are not so fortunate and Christmas day is just like every other day. It’s filled with the same struggles and strife’s where there are no presents, no home or bed and a proper meal is a distant dream.
Save the Children raise money to help bring vital things like food, medicine and shelter to children who urgently need them. Through their fundraising initiatives everyone can help to sort out real life issues like global inequality, poverty and hunger. This year we held our very first Christmas Jumper Day raising money for Save the Children and celebrated ‘getting silly for a great cause’.
We held a pizza party and bake sale with soft drinks and a little tipple of Champagne to toast the festivities. Our office was decorated with tinsel and garlands and a table spread strewn with chocolate brownies, peanut and cashew balls and gingerbread men.
There was also a prize for the best festive creation and after much deliberation; we selected the colleague who had gone to the effort of customizing his jumper with tinsel, lights and Elton John-esque glitter glasses. A well-deserved bottle of wine was presented to him before carrying on with the party.
After all the food was eaten and the Champagne was drunk, we counted up our donations and were delighted to have raised a total of £261. We hope that that will help make someone's Christmas that little bit brighter this year.
Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year from Target Dry HQ!
Winter is a month that tends to be dreaded. From the long hours of darkness to that chill when you get out of bed in the morning, winter is, for the most part, survived as opposed to enjoyed.
Yet, amid all the nasty points, there is still a certain sense of magic to the winter months. From the cosiness of settling in for the night after a long, cold day to cracking hats, scarves and all manner of woollen delights. When you start to curse the cold for freezing up your windscreen in the morning, bear these good points in mind!
1. Getting a bit of Hygge in your Life
The so called Danish art of living well has really taken off with the advent of Louisa Thomsen Brits’ book “The Book of Hygge” and the great news is that you can bring a bit of Hygge into your life right now.
Hygge is all about creating a cosy, comforting atmosphere (perfect for winter time), embracing peacefulness, safety, warmth, enjoyment and contentment. Embracing life fully, in the moment is central to the Hygge philosophy. There must be something to be said for it too since the Danes are said to be the happiest nation in the world!
2. Hot Drinks
'Tis the season of hot drinks and my, do we have plenty to choose from in the winter months. Pumpkin spice flavours are suddenly in abundance, egg nog, peppermint mochas and lets not forget mulled wine and mulled cider.
3. Christmas Parties
The stress of all that cold weather and Christmas shopping can drive us to blow off a bit of steam by having a few festive drinks with friends. From Christmas jumper parties to Christmas markets the Yuletide season is brimming with excuses to spend some time amid good company and brighten up those dark evenings. And let’s face it, there’s just a sense of excitement in the air when going out during the countdown to Christmas that isn’t in the air at any other time of year.
4. Blissful Boredom
Winter is the season of embracing the blissful side to boredom. Whenever you’re completely snowed in and there’s nothing else for it but to get comfy on the sofa and watch that boxset you’ve been meaning to watch for ages. or settling in on a dark rainy evening with a thick book.
Belfast, and Northern Ireland more widely, has its fair share of haunted buildings and areas, all with their own chilling stories. If watching scary movies and telling spooky tales simply won’t cut it this Halloween, why not visit somewhere from this spooky selection of places if you’re brave enough?
1. Crom Estate, Fermanagh
Situated on the shoreline of Upper Lough Erne, Crom is a 2,000 acre demesne with fantastic views and surrounded by woodland. While on the surface, the National Trust area may seem very peaceful, it has had plenty of ghostly tales and sightings along those seemingly tranquil shores.
Take part in the Crom ghost walk which will take you through old castle ruins where you’ll encounter one of the oldest yew trees in Ireland, aged between 400 and 1000 years. Then you’ll continue along the loughside where spectral lights have been witnessed above theatres of Lough Erne. You’ll also pass the walled garden and go through the grounds of Crom Estate. At least if you don’t witness any eerie spectral lights you’ll have some lovely views to take in.
2. Crumlin Rd Gaol, Belfast
Perhaps the most well known haunted place in Northern Ireland, Crumlin Rd Gaol’s history dates back to 1845 and it certainly packed in plenty of harrowing events during its time. 17 men were executed within its walls over its 150 year history. Many people have experienced strange sightings, noises and unexplained happenings. Take part in their paranormal tour that will take you through the execution chamber, the condemned man’s cell, the tunnel and the flogging room. You’ll have the chance to use ghost hunting equipment as part of your very own ghost hunt. Simply not for the faint hearted!
3. Springhill House, Derry-Londonderry
With Derry-Londonderry being named the best Halloween destination in the world, a trip over here this Halloween is well worth it. It also contains the the home of Ireland’s best documented ghost, Olivia at Springhill House. Springhill is a beautiful 17th century ‘Plantation’ home with plenty to explore inside and outside in the surrounding Beech walk and Sawpit hill walk.
Once home to the Lennox-Connyngham family their dark past haunts the walls of the old house. George Lennox-Connyngham, the father of the family, after receiving news that he was to be court marshalled for abandoning his army duties to return home to his sick daughters, one of whom later died, committed suicide in the “blue room.” Olivia, the ghost who haunts the house, is said to be seen repeating her too-late dash to save her husband.
4. Grace Neill’s, Donaghadee
Said to be the oldest pub in Ireland, Grace Neill’s has been around since 1611 although for over 400 years it was known as The Kings Arms. Grace Neill ran the inn for much of the 19th and 20th centuries and she is said to keep a watchful eye over the pub from beyond the grave with glasses and books moving around seemingly by themselves and lights being switched on and off.
Staff assure that Grace is benevolent however… Why not call into this historic pub this Halloween for a spot of lunch? It has had its fair share of famous customers ranging from poet John Keats to Tina Turner!
5. The Giant’s Ring, Belfast
Thought to date back as far as 2700BC, The Giant’s Ring is a seriously old, pre-Christian religious site in the Shaws Bridge area. Northern Ireland’s very own Neolithic graveyards it has been associated with a number of unsettling happenings.
People who have visited this area have reported being surrounded by a thick, impenetrable mist and that when trying to make their tracks away from the area, find themselves back at the Menhir, the small druidic alter that sits in the centre of the Giant’s Ring.