Gratuitous pluggery


Merry April 1. If you don’t live in, or near, Bristol, you can ignore the rest of this.

Otherwise, I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you that this week’s Venue mag comes with a free copy of Days Out 2010, the only guide you’ll need if you like visiting countryside, ancient ruins, stately homes, museums and stuff like that around Bristol sort of way. It’s mostly by me.

In between other things, I’ve been writing about history, tourism and heritage in the South West for years now, and people often ask me where to go.

If you want ancient mysteries, a nice walk, and the chance to laugh at stupid hippies, go to Avebury, not Stonehenge.

If you want an adventure like something out of Enid Blyton, and be somewhere that is so divorced from reality it’s not even on Google Street View (thanks James) take a trip to Steep Holm or, if you find seagulls scary, get one of the Waverley/Balmoral trips to Lundy, where they have puffins instead.

If you want to see ordinary people telling the astonishing story of their community without funding or interference, go to Kingswood Heritage Museum.

If you want weird relics and dark, dangerous back stories visit Farleigh Hungerford Castle.

For watery-eyed nostalgia for a long-lost age of seaside holidays, get the Torbay Express or travel the West Somerset Railway.

You want romantic gardens, try Snowshill (which also has a vast collection of weird stuff), Iford Manor and, closest to Bristol,  Hanham Court Gardens.

And for the best free days out ever go to Wales for the astonishing Big Pit museum and the equally amazing St Fagans National History Museum. There is no socialism in England’s heritage business, but there’s plenty in Wales’s.

If you want to go for a walk, do that anywhere, and if you want to exercise your rights, ask the darling taxman (may his tribe increase) about the Conditional Exemption Scheme.

There’s hundreds more ideas in that there Guide, mind. Free with this week’s Venue, which you should buy.

End of advert. Thank you for your patience.


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