YES, we are all on lockdown – but when this terrible time is over, many of us will be looking to head out across the UK once again.
The staycation will be more important than ever as we look to get back on our feet and move forward. But that does not mean you cannot enjoy a taste of the rest of the world right here. Sarah Turner discovers the gems in Blighty that could transport you to another country.
Taj Mahal/Brighton Pavilion
IN the 18th Century, the Prince Regent loved Brighton for its sea air and his encounters with mistresses. When he decided to create a seaside getaway, he did not hold back.
The end result is a little bit of the Taj Mahal in Brighton. Outside is fanciful enough – a series of creamy-white, oriental-style turrets and pillars – and the inside is even more ornate.
It is awash with eye-popping wallpaper and stunning objects d’art, including several lent by the Queen. You can also see the kitchen that produced 36-course menus for the prince and his guests back in the day.
When lockdown is lifted, you are better off heading to the Chilli Pickle Indian restaurant nearby.
How much: Adults £15, children £9. See brightonmuseums.org.uk/royalpavilion.
Where to stay: Travelodge Brighton Seafront will have doubles from £67, room only. See travelodge.co.uk.
BRUM has more canals than Venice. Well, mile for mile it does (35 to be exact).
Another plus over Venice: Most of the Birmingham canals have tow paths alongside them so you can go for a stroll or a cycle ride.
There aren’t gondolas but if you fancy a coffee, the Floating Coffee Company lives up to its name by serving drinks and cakes from a narrowboat on the canalside.
Away 2 Dine is also moored at Brindleyplace and has regular dinner, Sunday roasts and cream tea cruises that head along the Worcester & Birmingham Canal to Edgbaston.
There are any number of trendy bars and restaurants where you can hang out. The Flapper has live music, while the Malthouse has a suntrap beer garden and a first-floor terrace, all overlooking Birmingham Canal Old Line.
Where to stay: Premier Inn Birmingham City on Bridge St has canal views and will have double rooms from £27 a night. See premierinn.com.
Where to go: See canalrivertrust.org.uk.
THE same cute, coloured houses and charming piazzas as Italy’s famous resort but with a much better beach.
Back in 1925, eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis started building his own Italian village and now Portmeirion is a whimsical bit of Med-accented paradise just outside Porthmadog in Gwynedd.
Famous guests to have stayed there include The Beatles.
How much: Adult tickets £7-£12, children from free to £8 per day, according to season. See portmeirion.wales/visit.
Where to stay: Portmeirion Hotel will have double rooms from £129, including breakfast.
SUSSEX has been sprouting vineyards faster than California.
The Queen served Ridgeview’s sparkling wine at her Diamond Jubilee.
Just like Napa Valley, most vineyards, including Ridgeview and Bolney, have tours and cellar-door sales.
Rathfinny vineyard has California-style cool accommodation. Book one of their short breaks and you get a bottle of their finest.
Where to stay: Double rooms, including lunch and breakfast, will start at £165 (for two) at Rathfinny. Rathfinnyestate.com.
FOR miles of lavender fields, go along the A149 to the Norfolk coast. A heady rival to Provence, the town of Heacham has all the purple, highly scented landscape you want.
Founded in 1932, Norfolk Lavender spreads over 100 acres and has tours of the fields and the distillery that produces the oil. The farm’s cafe serves lavender scones and cakes.
How much: Tours from £2.50. See norfolk-lavender.co.uk.
Where to stay: A three-night break at ParkDean Resorts’ Heacham Beach Holiday Park will start at £149 for a caravan sleeping up to six. See parkdeanresorts.co.uk.
Mont St Michel/St Michael’s Mount
A MYSTERIOUS island that can be accessed by foot when the tide is low.
The famous Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy or St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall?
It is now owned by the National Trust but has been home to the St Aubyn family for 500 years.
About 30 people live there and amphibious vehicles take people to and fro the mainland at high tide.
How much: Adults from £10.50, children from £5. Find out more at stmichaelsmount.co.uk.
Where to stay: The Marazion Hotel will have double rooms from £95 including breakfast. See marazionhotel.co.uk.
Iceland/ Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, Skye
BRITAIN’S most dramatic waterfall gives Iceland a run for its money.
At the northern end of the Isle of Skye, majestic Kilt Rock is a series of black basalt columns that do very much look like a kilt, especially after a dram of whisky.
And for extra effect, your snaps can include the Mealt Falls, a plume of water that plunges 100 metres into the sea below. The best viewpoint is at Elishader on the Trotternish Peninsula. Instagram away.
Where to stay: Beinn Edra House near Portree will have B&B and self-catering cottages. B&B prices start from £80 per couple. See valtosskye.co.uk.
YOU don’t have to head to Greece for an amphitheatre. When local woman Rowena Carr staged a performance of The Tempest in her back garden, four miles from Lands End, in 1932, she created a small open-air theatre.
Now the theatre seats up to 750 per performance, has plays and concerts in summer and autumn.
It is a popular tourist attraction, even if you don’t go to see a play, with gardens, exhibitions and a cafe.
How much: Adults £6, children £3, theatre tickets from £10, minack.com.
Where to stay: The Cove Hotel in nearby Lamora will have rooms from £97, room-only. See thecovecornwall.co.uk.
IF you want natural hot springs, here is an alternative to Budapest in Hungary.
Under Bath’s Georgian squares and crescents is a thermal water supply that comes out of the ground at 45C.
The Romans turned it into a sacred spring and built a temple around it in AD70.
The Roman Baths are on show but there is also a new thermal spa, including a magnificent rooftop pool.
How much: Two-hour sessions from £37. See thermaebathspa.com. Also see romanbaths.co.uk.
Where to stay: The Z Hotel will offer doubles from £45 room-only. See thezhotels.com/hotels/bath.
Great Wall of China/Hadrian’s Wall
SO it’s not quite as long as China’s 13,170 miles, but Hadrian’s Roman soldiers put in a very solid effort in 122 AD to keep the pesky Scots out of England.
Running from Wallsend on North Tyneside to the Solway Firth, Cumbria, there are 73 miles of wall to explore, all studded with forts.
Some parts are still being excavated, including Vindolanda, which has a Roman Army Museum.
How much: Entry to Vindolanda is £12.60, children £7.20. See vindolanda.com.
Where to stay: Rye Hill Farm near Hexham will have B&B from £75 per couple. Camping also available. See ryehillfarm.co.uk.