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I received this book for Christmas last year, and am delighted with it. I love coffee table travel books anyway, but this one was a bit more useful as it featured a variety of places in the UK that were more easily accessible than some of the wild and wacky world destinations I usually find myself browsing through. The book is divided up by region and then sub-divided by county so is easy to find your area. There is an explanation at the front of the book, but I found the book quite intuitive and I suspect most people can work out that the number next to the entry in the book, corresponds to the number on the map. The book is in full colour, and most pages will have a picture or two on them, with the regional pages also having the maps. The entries are varied, from the obvious, to the strange. Directions to each place are basic, and not particularly specific so you would need your wits about you if you are driving in an area you don't know to watch out for signs. It also mentions opening seasons, for example is something was open only in summer months, or only on certain days. Although, I would think this was worth checking directly to save a wasted and disappointing journey. Admission prices aren't listed but as they can easily be out of date by the time the book goes to print, I don't mind this. Of course, many places would actually be free, we don't always have to pay for amazingness in this country!
So what's included? Well, there are 1000 places obviously, if I open the book randomly, I have ended up in Hertfordshire. One page is given over to St Albans and its Roman history, and three places of interest there (under the one heading, so presumably one counts as one out of 1000 places) with directions ( Example: St Albans' Cathedral - "Town Centre, off Holywell Hill"), there is also a picture of the Roman Theatre there. The facing page has four entries for Hertfordshire. Famous place such as Hatfield House and the De Havilland Aircraft Centre, which are probably fairly well known in the area plus more unusual places such as Rothschild's Zoological Museum of stuffed animals and Shaw's Retreat - a shed George Bernard Shaw used to write many of his plays in, that also rotated to change the light or view.
Flicking forward to Central England and Derbyshire and a featured section on six of Derbyshire's limestone caves, along with a stunning full page picture taken in Peak Cavern. Other destinations I have just found out about through randomly flicking open the book include a train made out of bricks in Darlington and Farndale Daffodils in Yorkshire which is actually a short walk through a seemingly picturesque valley in the Spring. This is one of the reasons I love the book, for little bits of information such as this, which probably only locals would know about. Famous attractions are listed here, but not exclusively, for example Buckingham Palace is not featured in the London section but Heathrow Airport, some unusual museums, markets and umbrella shops are.
One of the first destinations I visited through this book was the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, it was worthy of its entry in my opinion. Its two paragraph write up tells of its history and contents very briefly, I would describe it as a mini-British Museum. I would really like to recommend this book to anyone who looking at travelling to parts of the UK. In the current economic climate, not every one is going to be able to jet off abroad on holidays, and whilst UK holidays don't come cheap, this book brings together some pretty interesting and original places meaning that I think most people would be able to find somewhere near them that they could visit easily on either day trips or further afield on one/two night breaks.
As I said, mine was a gift but the RRP is £14.99, offers are available on Amazon and elsewhere. All photos are on my own, taken when visiting places around the country.
As featured on page 39 in the Somerset section - Bath's Roman Baths.
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