Scotland Vacations With Scotland Castles

Is it possible to have good Scotland vacations without visiting a few castles? Castles more or less dot the country side and sit right at the center of so many of the main cities. If you want to enjoy Scotland’s rich history you will find yourself at some sort of castle. Some of these castles are crumbling shells while others have been restored and you can spend the night in one of their stately rooms. There are even castles that you could get married in and rent the entire estate out for your wedding party.

A Short List of my Favorites

Haunted Borthwick Castle, this castle at first sight is so imposing with its gray brick and tall towers. The walls just growl “be ware!” The history in these buildings contains a ghost and a story to go along with it. People claim to see the ghost of a page boy that might be Mary Queen of Scots sneaking past a mob of 1000 men that had come to kill her husband. The best part is that it is in the Edinburgh area and is now a hotel.

Dunrobin Castle is a wonderful contrast to Borthwick. Parts of this castle date back to the 1300s, this castle looks like it comes right out of a fairy tale. White stone with sharp spires all over the place just screams Cinderella. One family has owned Dunrobin for over 700 years and they also have a ghost. Long ago a love sick girl fell to her death trying to escape the castle to meet her love.

Cowder Castle is the last of my short list. The photo that is on my site to represent this castle is so beautiful and makes it easy to dream about living there. This castle is extra famous because it was built around a holly tree where a donkey stopped. The donkey’s owner was told in a dream that this is where the castle should be built. The family still occupies this castle, but they do rent out a few holiday cottages.

Including these castles in your Scotland vacation will make your trip a truly wonderful experience. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy them. If you want to have a memorable vacation then be sure to look for the artwork, architecture, gardens, and friendly people. You just can not go wrong with Scotland vacations.

Follow the Stars to Cannes, or Take in the Best UK Film Locations

Fashion designers are styling up their clients and brand ambassadors, five-star hotels are fully booked under a variety of aliases, there are after parties being planned for after the after party, the limousines have been hired and the red carpet is ready to be rolled out. The movie stars are heading for Cannes and the paparazzi cannot be too far behind – it’s time for the Cannes film Festival.

For most movie enthusiasts in Europe, this is the main event. Some go as far as travelling to Nice to get a glimpse of the stars and, if they are lucky, come away with autographs and pictures with their idols.

But they will need to catch them first. Cannes is known for glitz, and car hire companies offering luxury and prestige car hire in France are seeing their lots emptied of Porsche 911 Carreras and Panameras, as the celebrities arrange their stay. If you’re thinking of heading to the French Riviera, and especially if you’re considering hiring a car to make an impression, try Avis or another high-end company well in advance to avoid disappointment.

“Midnight in Paris” is set to open the 64th Festival de Cannes. The film was written and directed by world famous director Woody Allen and features, amongst other stellar names, none other than Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, wife of the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.

Woody Allen has always enjoyed a love affair with the French public, who have arguably stuck by him for longer than any other audience while his star has faded in recent years. Indeed, 2002’s Hollywood Ending (which did not even receive a full release in the USA) nodded to this fact when Woody’s character, a Director who covers up his blindness in order to finish a film, wins a Gong at the Cannes Festival and declares “Thank God the French exist.”

The festival organisers are probably on safe ground kicking off with the debut of a new Allen movie titled “Midnight in Paris” – the film is likely to go down well with French audiences and Francophiles alike, as the French capital arguably takes the starring role.

While Paris remains the hot spot for movies shot in France, The UK has a proud history in film production, and several UK locations have been the stars of their own films. Here are a few of the most famous and beautiful locations that merit a visit if a celebrity-chasing holiday in Cannes is not your thing.

The Kings Speech (2010)

This brilliant movie starring Britain’s Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter won 4 Oscars. As expected of a story whose central character is King George VI, all of its 118mins was shot in the UK. 33 Portland Place, Marylebone, London was used as the home of the Duke and Duchess of York. The King and Lionel have their fall out at Avenue Garden near Regent’s Park, London. Elland Road Stadium in Leeds and Grattan Stadium in Bradford was used as Wembley Stadium at start of film. Ely Cathedral in Ely, Cambridgeshire stood in for the iconic Westminster Abbey.

The Thirty Nine Steps (1978)

Voted the most iconic film location in London in a poll, it gained its reputation for a scene in this 1978 thriller in which Robert Powell’s character hangs off the clocks face. For a truly iconic image of London in film it’s hard to beat the nail-biting, clock-ticking drama seen at the top of Big Ben in The Thirty Nine Steps. St Paul’s Cathedral was voted second place, for the scene in Mary Poppins where the hungry pigeons get fed on the building’s steps.

28 Days Later (2002)

One of the most popular British horror movies features various scenes set across the English capital. However, Westminster Bridge, the location for the opening scene of the British horror film 28 Days Later, stands out. In the film, Irish star Cillian Murphy’s character wakes up to find himself completely alone in London and wanders over the deserted bridge.

Robin Hood (2010)

Pembrokeshire on the south west Wales coast which has been seen in two recent films – “Robin Hood” staring Russell Crow and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”. It’s not hard to see how this vast expanse of beach with little pools created at low tide captivates audiences and holiday makers alike, especially those carrying surfboards. The beach is called Freshwater West Beach just down the road from Saundersfoot.

Braveheart (1995)

The 1995 epic drama was filmed in some of Scotland’s most dramatic locations, Glen Nevis, Loch Leven and Glen Coe. Glen Nevis, located under Ben Nevis is where the opening scene is shot. It’s a walker’s haven and home to Scotland’s three highest waterfalls. Glen Coe is a fantastic place for climbers and skiers in the winter and was used for filming scenes on its eastern edge close to the 3,345-foot high mountain, Buchaille Etive Mor.

Harry Potter (Trilogy)

Alnwick Castle is probably the most famous Harry Potter filming locations as the setting for Hogwarts School of Magic, but en-route to Hogwarts and at a number of other times during the trilogy, a train is seen passing over a high railway bridge. This wasn’t computer generated – the bridge is called the Glenfinnan viaduct on the line from Fort William to Mallaig in Scotland, with views down to the Loch itself.

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Lincoln Cathedral was one of the settings for the 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, although the cathedral which is pretty historic in its own right was meant to look like Westminster Abbey. The fact is, the 13th Century Lincoln Cathedral was just more historic looking than its famous London cousin. There is plenty of history surrounding the castle including having one of only four copies of the Magna Catra in existence. Another of the locations made famous by Dan Browns’ book is The Chapel Rosslyn near Edinburgh. Again the building is steeped in history itself, but it became almost a mecca for Da Vinci Code enthusiasts after the film was released having been named in it. The 15th Century chapel is claimed to have connections with the Knights Templar and the Masons, both of whom are believed to be connected to the Da Vinci Code.

The World is Not Enough (1999)

The iconic British spy trailed the bad guys all over London. Tower Bridge, Tobacco Wharf, Thamesdown Drive, Thames Bank, Stowe School and Stowe Gardens, Royal Victoria Docks, SIS Headquaters (as expected of a true double-0). The list is endless. However, the most memorable was watching James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) chase the baddies along the River Thames in a frenetic boat chase which came to a climax at the Millennium Dome (an iconic masterpiece built to celebrate the beginning of the third millennium). It also features in the opening scene to the movie with Pierce Brosnan parachuting unto the circular landmark.

British Cruising

With so many cruise lines currently available today, it comes as no surprise that the majority of British cruisers have been converted to cruising aboard US-style cruise ships, with their larger than life ships. How do the British companies such as Cruise & Maritime and Thomson Cruises compare?

Cruise and Maritime

Cruise and Maritime offer lower fares on their 800 passenger ships, Marco Polo and Ocean Countess. They only offer cruises that sail from the UK which makes them a popular choice for those who do not like to fly, and sail from six ports; London, Hull, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool. They do not boast the glitz and glam of the larger ships, with no climbing walls or Broadway style shows, but what they do have which is a key difference is a home-from-home atmosphere and the emphasis is very much on a personal service and going that extra mile for you. Due to their smaller size their ships can slip into smaller and more remote ports of call, which they larger vessels cannot reach, making them a firm favourite with those experienced cruisers who are looking for something a little different than the typical cruise.

Both of their ships tend to avoid the Mediterranean which is heavily dominated by larger cruise lines. Instead they tend to focus on cruising to the fjords, Iceland, France, Spain, North Cape, Portugal or around the British Isles. During the festive season, Cruise and Maritime can be found sailing to the Christmas markets in Europe and longer voyages around far out destinations such as the Amazon and West Indies.

Thomson Cruises

Thomson is currently the second largest UK-operated cruise line, carrying a whopping 280,000 passengers a year. Unlike the foreign cruise lines, they don’t continuously buy newer ships, instead they focus their money on the ships they already have, which means better on board dining and entertainment, and is quite probably a reason why they win awards such as ‘UK’s favourite affordable cruise line’. They have four ships in the fleet, the Thomson Dream, Destiny, Celebration and Spirit and in the summer their ships mainly sail around the Mediterranean to British favourites such as Majorca, Turkey and Corfu. In the winter the ships tend to focus their itineraries on the Caribbean, the canaries and the Red Sea. Thomson has also introduced a test drive cruise to encourage more British cruisers. If you are staying with Thomson at one of their hotel resorts such as Palma and Majorca then you can now take a tour on their ship and see if you like the idea of cruising. They are also offering special deals for those that want to book the cruise, to entice more and more people to sail on a Thomson ship.

Fred Olsen

Quite like Cruise and Maritime, Fred Olsen boasts that warm and welcoming home-from-home atmosphere that the Brits love. They offer traditional cruising upon their fleet of four; the Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch. Their key selling point is that they sail directly from the UK, so can set sail from Portsmouth, Southampton, Falmouth, Greenock, Holyhead, Leith and Liverpool and they offer worldwide itineraries to places such as South America, Singapore and South Africa.

Popular Cities For Hen Nights

Hen nights are becoming very fashionable nowadays. Whether you choose to have it in a bar or a club, at the countryside or abroad you have to prepare it thoroughly. You should also bear in mind that city breaks have become the most desired destination for these parties. You can easily find packages for hen nights in many attractive European cities. This way benefit from economical flights and hotels and enjoy your party in an outstanding environment for a cheap price.

Amsterdam is one the most desirable destinations for this type of event. Apart from its typical architecture, its canals and cruises, you can also have a good time in its famous club bars and restaurant. The city is also reputed for having one of the best accommodations of the world. Edinburgh is another city on the top of the list, very attractive for hen parties, especially because of the limited budget you need to go there. Apart its castle, its main attractions are festivals, comedy clubs, theaters and nightclubs.

Dublin is also a favorite destination for bachelorette parties. One of Europe’s most youthful cities, it is well known for its lively nightlife. Its pubs are concentrated mainly around the area of St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street. The night life is especially dynamic in Temple Bar, famous among tourists for its hen parties. Initially Dublin’s cultural neighborhood, you can still find here small art productions, photographic and artist’s studios, street performances and small music venues. Barcelona has been a favorite destination for a long time, due to its treasures of culture and architecture, as well as for its sandy beaches and night life.

You could also choose to throw a hen party in Central Europe fascinating cities such as Budapest or Prague. The Hungarian capital attracts visitors with its clubs and traditional cafes, its beautiful architecture, its steaming geyser water, ice bathing and its excellent food and drinks. As for Prague, you can admire its Gothic church towers and fluted columns, its well-known concert halls, galleries, and music clubs.

Irrespective of the location, hen parties are generally theme parties where fancy dresses represent a compulsory ingredient. Every bride-to-be is generally choosing an original, funny theme for her party. She is supposed to wear the most glamorous outfit in order to stand out as the most important protagonist of the event. Costumes, whether angel costumes, school geeks, naughty nurses, Alice in Wonderland, cave woman, Wally girl costumes, all sizes and all models can be found online, so that your party will be funny and unforgettable.

3 Tips For Custom Aquarium Design

People love aquariums. They just can’t get enough of these fascinating fixtures and the sense of tranquility they create. It’s no wonder the overall demand for aquariums has increased tremendously over the last couple of decades.

As a result, the popularity of custom-designed aquariums has also risen. More people wanted aquariums that met their specific needs and aquarium retailers had to adapt. Thus, the world of custom-designed aquariums was born!

Now, custom-designed aquariums are the norm. People like the assurance that the aquarium they’re investing in will integrate well in the room it will occupy, serve its purpose, and comply with their personal preferences.

If this sounds like what you’re looking for, custom aquarium design is the route you want to take. Here are 3 helpful tips to get your started:

Custom Aquarium Designs Need A Purpose

Some important questions to ask yourself before purchasing an aquarium are: what am I trying to accomplish with this aquarium? What is its purpose in my space?

Answering these questions will not only help you gather your own thoughts and ideas, but will also provide clarity for your custom aquarium designer.If you are clear from the get-go about what role you’d like your aquarium to play, it will be much easier for the aquarium designs professional to accommodate your needs.

For example, some people use aquariums for the sole purpose of elevating a room’s appearance. Aquariums are known to increase the aesthetics of a room and add a level of style and sophistication that is unmatched by other decor additions.

Others choose to be a bit more innovative by transforming a major room component into an aquarium. This can include anything like allocating the aquarium to serve as a fancy room divider to placing an aquarium inside a coffee table or within a wall.

The sky’s the limit. Aquarium design experts, Aquatic Interiors, advise customers to be creative and let their imaginations run wild. What you can do with an aquarium is truly amazing and it’s important to remember the possibilities are infinite! If you can dream it up, an aquarium design firm can build it.

Custom Aquarium Designs Adapt To Your Space; Not The Other Way Around

The benefits of adding an aquarium to a room are endless. From enhancing the appearance to altering the ambiance, aquariums are a great way to transform any space without having to remodel completely.

Great solution, right? Right. Until you realize the aquarium you chose does not fit your space. Rather than be the beautiful focal point it was intended to be it now has become an eyesore. Yikes!

Fortunately this problem can be avoided by choosing to go with a custom-designed aquarium. During consultation, your aquarium designers will assess your aquarium needs, the size of the room, and the general theme of your room to make sure your new aquarium flows well with your space and satisfies your preferences.

Choosing A Custom Aquarium Designer

The aquarium designs professional you pick could make or break your aquarium project. No matter what your deadline for completion may be, it is always in your best interest to research several aquarium design firms in your area. This will assist you with getting a good feel for the level of service provided, who you’ll be working with, prices, and past work experience.

For instance, you may want an aquarium design firm that focuses solely on aquarium room dividers. You may also choose to work with a company that offers “turnkey aquarium installation” or design expertise.

No matter your reasoning, by doing your research beforehand, you’ll be able to assess who can complete your job to your satisfaction and within your budget.