AK4500 Gimbal Stabalizer Review | Best Gimbal Stabalizer for Vloggers

As someone who’s background is in TV but has a YouTube channel I’m always looking for ways to improve my videos and bring them up to the standard I’m used to for my shows. Whilst many cameras now offer in built stabilisation, it’s nothing compared to the smooth shots using a gimbal stabiliser can offer.

I use a Nikon z7 mirrorless which weighs under a kg, however with a lens is considerably heavier so I was looking for the best gimbal for DSLR or mirrorless cameras that could take the weight of my current kit, yet wasn’t too heavy in itself. The FeiyuTech AK4500 is the lightest DSLR gimbal at only 1.6kg with its space-level ultra-light aluminium alloy. Comparatively the DJI Ronin S is 1.86 kg & the Ronin M is 2.3kg before cameras so the AK4500 is much preferable in terms of weight. Despite it’s lighter weight it can actually hold up to 4.6kg.

How easy is it to set up the AK4500?
Once you have the camera balanced it’s easy to set up and pack down and what’s really cool is there are a lot of components to suit every eventuality of filming requirement but equally one can choose to only use the basic set up with a monopod style handle if you’re trying to cut down on what you’re carrying.

AK4500 gimbal stabiliser review

What features does the AK4500 have that I found useful?
I am a huge fan of timelapses and I find that they really elevate my work. The AK4500 has a motion timelapse option allowing for moving timelapses that highlight the beauty of landscapes in an unbeatable way.



Whilst this mode is excellent for cinematic shots it’s also helpful for vloggers like myself who want to set up a shot that they are in, but still have some camera movement. You can send up a start point & end point and the amount of time you want it to shoot for and then easily start recording to create the illusion of having a camera crew when in fact it’s just you! Furthermore, the ‘used last’ setting is great for creating similar shots in different places, rather than having to remember and reset the gimbal you can simply choose that option and then recreate clips for consistency in your filming.

Whilst I’m usually shooting in landscape it does also allow for easy switching between portrait and landscape so if you’re focusing more on TikTok or IGTV then it’s ideal. Equally, having a touch screen saves you the headache you may have with other gimbals which is often having to use an app. Almost all of the functionality of the AK4500 is inbuilt and able to be controlled with the touch screen which is very helpful.

AK4500 gimbal stabiliser review

Who is the AK4500 best for?
It’s actually a very sophisticated piece of kit although not initially the simplest to use, however it’s at a great price point and sturdy so it’s ideal for those looking to upgrade their videos and work to include smooth moving shots & more documentary style videos.

It does come with a great suitcase style carry case but once set up it’s not able to fit back in this initial box, however the gimbal does fold down fairly small and I was able to safely store it in my regular large camera bag without too much trouble which means it’s definitely suitable for travel vloggers

AK4500 gimbal stabiliser review
AK4500 gimbal stabiliser review


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Thanks for reading my review of Feiyutech AK4500, in my opinion the best gimbal for DSLR / best gimbal for mirrorless on the market in 2020.

This was part of a gifted collaboration but I was under no obligation to post and was not paid.

Thames Rockets | What you need to know?

To be rated as Trip Advisor’s number one outdoor activity in London is something of an accolade. London has a never ending and ever changing number of things to do so reaching the top spot is surely a difficult feat.

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Thames Rocket gives customers the chance to zoom down the Thames River taking in the sights whilst enjoying the thrill of 30 knots onboard the red RIB. RIB stands for Rigid-hulled inflatable boat which should give you some indication of what the boats are like. You’ll be riding in a heavy duty inflatable similar to what the SAS Elite UK forces use and don’t underestimate how fast these boats can go!

The Thames Rockets tick a lot of boxes as a London activity; it has a centrally located launch point so you won’t have to travel far to get to on board, it’s suitable for all ages, it takes in a lot of the key sights along the Thames, and it’s also a hit with thrill seekers!

My parents were visiting London and I decided to take them on the Thames Rockets to get a different perspective of the city. Judging by the joyful whooping, the whole boat greatly enjoyed the ride and interestingly perhaps for different reasons. A few visitors from the USA were on the boat with us, and for them the opportunity to see so many of London’s top sights for the first time was a dream come true, the guide was informative throughout as well as rather funny and it helped our overseas visitors understand a little bit more about what we were going past. Equally for my parents it wasn’t the first time in London but definitely gave them a completely unique view of many of the familiar sights on the Thames including seeing Canary Wharf, St Catherine’s Dock and even the police boats!

It’s easy to see why it’s so highly rated and will continue to be a top activity in the capital and so I’ve put together a list of some ‘need to know’ Q&A before you jump on board.

How to book tickets
Whilst it’s essential to book in advance it’s always worth seeing if there are last minute tickets available as the Thames Rocket operates around 10 times a day. You can book online here or via the phone operator by calling the booking hotline on 020 7928 8933.

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Who can/can’t ride?
The experience is suitable for all ages but unfortunately not for lades at any stage of pregnancy. Equally it’s not recommended for anyone with past or current back, neck or heart condition.

Will I get wet?
The quick answer is ‘not really.’ Before we boarded we were all offered waterproof jackets which most people declined as it was lovely weather. On the way out of London I didn’t even feel a drop of water on me, but as we headed back towards the pier then the wind did catch the water resulted in a little spray. Whilst you’re definitely not going to get actually wet, for anyone particularly precious about their hair it’s maybe advisable to at least tie it back.

Is it scary?
I would use the word thrilling rather than scary. Sure enough the RIB can get up to some great speeds but it’s incredibly enjoyable in the same way a roller coaster is. There’s always somewhere to hold onto and there were people of all ages on board my trip proving that it was enjoyed cross generationally.

What safety precautions are taken?
Lifejackets are provided and must be worn at all times. It’s a self inflating one and is very lightweight so you wouldn’t really notice you’ve got it on. Equally there are children’s lifejackets and facilities for toddlers too. Thames Rocket is fully insured and also has ‘full Public Liability Insurance to four times the legal requirement level is in place as standard.’

Where does it go from?
The rides take place from two locations. I went from London Eye Pier which is just to the left of the London Eye when facing the river, but they also have a departure point for certain trips from the Tower of London .

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What will I see?

Many of London’s most iconic landmarks are along the Thames and it’s definitely a great way to see many of them from a completely different perspective. Even the launching point for the boat is right next to the London Eye and opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Some of the top sights along the route are;

  • The Tower of London- Home of the  crown jewels, where Anne Boleyn was beheaded and the home to various exotic animals over the years incoming a polar bear!
  • HMS Belfast  – WWII ship and the first ship to fire shots on D Day. Decommissioned in the 70s, it’s now a museum.
  • The Shard – The tallest building in western Europe.
  • Shakespeare’s Globe – Replica building and one of the most popular theatres in London.
  • Blackfriars Bridge – Attractive bridge featuring decoration only seen from the water such as columns decorated on one side with seabirds and on the other with fresh water birds as it’s the divide between fresh water and salt water in the river
  • Tower Bridge – The most famous bridge in London and one of the most famous sights with it’s beautiful twin towers.

 

tower bridge by boat

tower bridge by boat

Canary Wharf by boat

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What are the guides like?
Our guide was very friendly from start to finish, not only was he making every laugh and creating a great atmosphere but he was also very knowledgable about the sights along the river.

As we went past a variety of spots he would give us a brief guide to each of the locations and made personal recommendations. For the Americans on board who hadn’t visited London before he was a good source of knowledge and even for us Brits then he had some lesser known facts that I actually had to Google when I got home as I didn’t know how I hadn’t learnt them previously. (I’ll let you find out for yourself what they were.) thames rocket guide

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For more information visit –

https://www.thamesrockets.com
https://daysoutnow.co.uk.

 

A day in Guernsey | Guernsey Port Guide

When I initially looked at the destinations I would be visiting on my cruise with Princess Cruises from Southampton then Guernsey wasn’t the one I was most excited about. I had naively expected it to not be that different to what I’d seen before in the UK, but I will happily be the first one to hold up my hand and admit that I loved Guernsey and it was actually one of my favourite days of the cruise. Guernsey is just off the coast of Normandy, France but a British Crown Dependency which technically means it’s a self governing place for which the United Kingdom is responsible. In reality it means it feels like a delightful mix of traditional British charm mixed with French influences and of course it’s unique personality.


How to get around

Guernsey has a fairly good bus system and it’s pretty cheap to ride, with most tickets around £1. However they aren’t always that frequent so do be sure to check the timetables especially if you have a ship to get back on at a certain time.

There are a number of taxi services on Guernsey, all of which need to be booked in advance.

If you’re happy to get some exercise then Guernsey is actually a very pleasant place to walk around, and the lack of busy roads means it’s fairly safe even if there isn’t a footpath.


What to do

Visit some of the beaches & bays

I’d heard about Guernsey’s beaches before visiting and I’d been told ‘the water looks like the Med’, however I’d passed this off as nonsense until I actually visited myself. Now I’m the person saying it to others who haven’t been, because it’s true! The water in some of the beautiful bays around the island is turquoise and streaked with other blues making it look like water you’d expect to see by the Greek Isles.

Guernsey’s beaches are vast and clean, particular favourites include Vazon Bay, a haven for those who enjoy extreme sports. Favoured by surfers, kitesurfers and bodyboarders it’s home to Guernsey Surf School which runs classes for all ages and abilities.

Pembroke Bay & Chouet Bay are north of St Peter Port and easily accessible by bus. Virtually deserted when we visited they are a peaceful and beautiful place to visit, with only the neighbouring golf course and odd ice cream stand in sight.

Check out the Loophole Towers

The loophole towers were originally 15 towers built along coast to deter possible French attacks; 12 towers still remain. The towers had three floors and were all built in the same style at 9m tall.

Explore St Peter Port
Charming Saint Peter Port is the capital of Guernsey and the main port. It’s a picturesque town with narrow cobbled streets decorated with flags & bunting making it a colourful and pretty place.

As well as many British high street stores you might recognise it’s also home to many individual boutiques and shops. The port itself is lovely to sit by and there are some delightful cafes nearby including Cafe Emilia as well as traditional fish & chip shops such as The Chip Inn.

Visit the Little Chapel
The Little Chapel is one of Guernsey’s top attractions and for good reason. It’s a 9 foot long and 4.5 foot wide chapel decorated with broken china, shells and bottles resulting in a colourful and unusual design that glistens in the sunshine. Built by Brother Déodat it was designed as a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica in Lourdes.

The chapel is free to visit and relies on donations from the public, it’s served by bus route 71.

May – Sept daily 9am – 6pm
Oct – Apr daily 9am – last light

Visit the lovely Candie Gardens
Candie Gardens is an award winning restored Victorian flower garden. Lovingly maintained these gardens are a tranquil place commanding great views out to the port.

They are home to the oldest known heated glass-houses in the British isles, as well as cafe serving afternoon tea, a museum and art gallery. The Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery and is open daily 10.00-17.00hrs (closes at 16.00hrs 1st November to 29 March). Closes 25th – 26th December and 1st – 31st January. The Library is open from 09:30-17:00 Monday to Saturday, excluding Public Holidays.


For more ideas here is my Guernsey vlog from my visit.


To book a cruise with Princess Cruises that stops at Guernsey click here. This article was written in partnership with Princess Cruises.

First time on a cruise? What you need to know?

If you’ve booked to go on your first cruise or are currently browsing options to have a cruise as your next holiday then you may be wondering what things you need to know before you travel on a cruise ship for the first time.

I recently travelled with Princess Cruises from Southampton on my first ever cruise so I’ve put together a handy guide that answers all the questions I had as well as some things I found out on the way.

What do I need to pack?
Obviously this will vary from cruise to cruise but below is a list of general items you will need to pack. Just like a hotel then often you will be provided with a toiletry set in your cabin, equally there will be an on board shop where you can purchase any items that you may have forgotten. Don’t panic if you do forget something as at the port days you’ll also be able to go shopping.

  • Comfortable shoes for hiking/walking on port days
  • Swimwear for the pool
  • Suncream
  • Smart clothing for any formal nights on board (see ‘Formal night’ section.)
  • Travel adapters
  • Camera (obviously) although there will often be on board photographers
  • Gym kit; many cruise ships will have gym facilities that you may wish to use

What is the formal night like?
Many cruise ships have at least one formal night, and whilst it’s not always compulsory that you get involved, it is a fun evening and an excuse to dress a little fancy. Formal nights will be announced in advance so you’ll have time to plan. On my cruise is Princess Cruises on board the Sapphire Princess then many people opted for tuxedos and evening gowns, with a few choosing a more simple shirt and tie.

Our formal night started with a champagne waterfall in the main atrium which was a fun activity where you could volunteer to pour the bottles and was a great photo opportunity.

Can you get laundry done on board?
Just like at a hotel it will more than likely be possible to get your clothes washing done on board. The system will probably include ticking a box to say what needs washing and leaving it for housekeeping to collect.

What about phone signal?
When you’re near a port or of course docked then of course you will be able to get signal on your phone and the normal roaming charges from your network supply will apply. However once you’re out at sea then if your phone joins a maritime network then you’re likely to come back with some pretty hefty charges. Best advice would be to switch the roaming off your phone shortly after you leave a port to avoid any extra costs.

Can I drink the water on board?
Unlike on a plane, there’s no need to worry about the quality of the water on board. It will all have been through rigorous testing to ensure it’s top quality for your to drink straight from the tap.

What kind of activities are on board?
There will be two separate options for your time on the ship.
1. Every ship will of course have the options available every day; for example the swimming pools, perhaps a casino, gym, running track or shuffleboard.
2. There will be daily activities announced on the ship, these will vary but may include shows and live performances, bingo, quiz sessions, art auctions and movie nights (on the Sapphire Princess they had the popular ‘Movies under the stars.’
For the daily activities you will be able to plan your day as you’ll have access to a schedule to see’what’s on’.

What happens on port days?
Of course the ports of call are an exciting part of any cruise. You’ll be informed as to the time of arrival and if the ship is docking right by the port then you’ll be able to disembark when you wish. If you have a tour booked of course you’ll have to ensure you’re off in good time to meet your group/guide. Equally be mindful of the time you need to back on the ship and leave plenty of time to board.

What is a tender?
A ship’s tender or just ‘tender’ is a boat used to transport the passengers to the port when the ship is unable to dock directly by the land. It’s a safe and quick way to get to shore. Sometimes this will involve travelling in lifeboats for example or just smaller boats to reach the ship.
If tenders are being used on a port day you will be informed in advance and sometimes may be given a specific time or group to travel with. Before the ship leaves in the evening you will be informed of the time of the last tender.

What is a muster station?
You’ll be allocated a muster station when you get on board. Put simply, this is the location you need to meet at should there be an emergency. If the emergency alert were to go off then you should make your way to the assigned location (clearly marked) and await further instructions from the crew.

Will I need an adapter for the plug sockets?
This will vary from ship to ship. On board the Sapphire Princess as it was an American ship then the plug sockets were 3 pin US so many people required an adapter, however these were available in the shop to purchase.

Will I feel sea sick?
Generally it’s not common to feel sick on cruise ships, as the larger the ship the less noticeable it will be that you’re slightly swaying. Some people actually find the movement of the ship fairly relaxing as they are going to sleep.


This post was written in AD partnership with Princess Cruises however the article and everything in it of course reflects my opinion and not that of the company.

15 things to do in Beverley | What to do in Beverley

Beverley is a delightful small town in the North East of England with a range of activities to suit all ages, and a huge amount of history and culture attached to it. It’s an ideal low key weekend break, with romantic hotels, some top dining locations and enough galleries, churches and quirky trails to keep you greatly entertained. Here are some top things to do Beverley.

1. Take a walking tour with Paul Schofield. Paul is originally from nearby Hull but knows the whole of East Yorkshire very well. His tours are tailored to the specific groups and are full of personality and fascinating stories. Paul knows not only some hidden gems around the town but also has many stories to suit.

He’s jolly and fun, with excellent local knowledge not just about the history of the area but also local customs, the best pubs to visit and funny stories about the town.

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2. Enjoy some fine dining twists on traditional meals at The Beverley Arms. With fantastic views of St Mary’s Church The Beverley Arms is a smart yet cosy hotel and bar/restaurant. The popular restaurant and bar serve real ales as well as some top food choices including a fantastic scallops & black pudding starter. Many of the dishes are recognisable choices but with updated twists. It finds a great balance between classy yet unpretentious, and this is reflected in the guests some of whom choose to dress up for dinner, with others comfortably casual.

The rooms are traditional and elegant, featuring tartans and ornate wallpaper, large walk in showers and tubs with luxury toiletries. It’s a great base to explore Beverley and certainly one of the most popular hotels in the region with good reason.

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3. Follow the painting trail. In a rather unique trail around the town, children and adults will enjoy finding the 22 full-sized paintings sited around Beverley. Paintings from local artists Fred and Mary Elwell (whose works were given to Beverley Art Gallery in 1958) make up a fun tour and outdoor art exhibition called ‘Painting The Town Fred And Mary.’

Even for those not particularly art focused it’s a bit different and the outdoor nature of it will certainly keep children interested.

4. Visit St Mary’s Church
You’d be forgiven for thinking that St Mary’s was in fact the cathedral given it’s size, but St Mary’s Church is in a fact a simple parish church, just a large and beautiful one. The outside is spectacular and it’s a lovely place to walk around and admire the architecture.

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5. Visit the Market Cross
Beverley is still a popular market town, and on a Saturday the large market stretches across the main square and draws in people from miles around, as well as locals of course. The Grade I listed Market Cross was built in the early 1700s and has been a proud central point of the town since then, drawing people to the market. It bares a number of coats of arms and some detailed carvings making it a beautiful as well as functional piece.

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6. Browse the local boutiques. Beverley has some wonderful boutiques and shops including record stores like Bug (pictured below). A top place to start is in St Mary’s Court which has some lovely clothing stores, a popular Gelato spot called Poma and some great unique gift shops.
Beverley is home to many high street brands but if you wander around the side streets and around the main square there are some independent shops including trendy clothing boutiques as well as high end salons.

7. Sample some luxury chocolates at the White Rabbit Chocolatiers. A small shop with some wonderful chocolates and truffles, it has extended and now features a popular cafe. Come for the chocolate slabs in flavours like ‘raspberry & amaretti’, the truffle counter including a delicious cappuccino flavour and the incredible decorated chocolate eggs.

8. Spot the intricate carvings of musicians at Beverley Minster
Beverley Minster is spectacular. It is grand, ornate and makes one marvel at how it was even designed let alone built. Spend a while exploring the different areas, taking note of the charming carvings of musicians dotted around. The minster has some beautiful stained glass windows and even those not particularly interested in religion or architecture are sure to be blown away by its majestic nature.

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9. Have a pint of Sam Smith’s at the White Swan. Known locally as Nellie’s this local institution is a popular pub serving very well priced ales from the Sam Smith brewery.

It’s large and traditional with lots of separate areas and a huge amount of history that keeps the locals coming back and the tourists wanting to visit. My dad tells me stories of it having gas lamps and a table with jugs of beers, which conjures up images of something like Oliver Twist. Obviously it has had to update somewhat since then, but only as much as the law requires, meaning it’s like stepping back in time.

10. Follow the trade trail around the town.
Beverley has a rich history of trades and the trade trail is made up of 39 unique sculptures depicting the trades and guilds of the region. In Medieval times Beverley was an important stopping point between York and Hull for coaches and it became a wealthy town with many skilled inhabitants including tanners and carpenters.

Follow the trade trail and spot some street art designs of varying sizes and shapes as you learn about the history of the town.

11. Follow Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit

Lewis Carroll was known to have spent a lot of time in Beverley with his family and a carving in St Mary’s Church surely does bare a strong resemblance to the White Rabbit character in his books. It is believed that this carving was part of the inspiration for the character.

12. Visit the old Friarage and it’s slanty facade.
The old friarage is now a YHA hostel, it what must be one of the most interesting buildings for a youth hostel. Slightly hidden away near the minster it’s a charming old building with some pleasant gardens including old wells, but the main draw is the front side with it’s very slanted walls, from some angles you would wonder how it manages to stay upright!

13. Walk around and take in the old buildings and Tudor timbers.
Beverley has some fantastic buildings, many of which are hundreds of years old. Be sure to look up as you walk around the town and spot some of the the buildings that have stood the test of time including a few authentic black & white timber designs, many with original street signs.

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14. Visit The Westwood

The Westwood is very pretty area of natural beauty just outside of the main town area. It is a great place to take a walk (plenty of parking spaces nearby), and take in the fresh air and lovely views, but it’s also pleasant just to drive through if you’re not much of an outdoorsy person.

15. Check out the sand sculptures
The Beverley sand sculpture trail is made up of sculptures from local artist Paul Hoggard. These 12,10-20 ton sand sculptures are housed in some significant buildings around the town including inside Beverley Minster and St Mary’s Church and represent things associated with Beverley through the ages. The sculptures are incredibly impressive and almost look as if they are carved from stone.
https://en-gb.facebook.com/remyandpaul/

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For more information about Beverley visit;

https://www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com/beverley/

The Bower House | A delightful Cotwswolds stay

I’m a big fan of boutique properties, I find the attention to detail is usually much higher and the service often more personal.  Indeed, at The Bower House you’re welcomed as an old friend and the smiling staff have great suggestions for the local area.

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The five rooms are individually designed, with different styles, layouts and sizes to appeal to a range of guests. I stayed in Room 1, which was spacious but furnished in a way that felt cosy, especially with the slightly drizzly weather outside. There were many details in the rooms that have addressed pet peeves of mine at other hotels over the years; fresh milk was provided in the fridge, necessary for people like me that have their coffee pretty white and who don’t want to have to empty 12 UHT pots to make it drinkable.

There was a bath oil provided, once again presumably an idea of someone who has stayed in too many hotels where you have to empty the shampoo bottle into the bath to make any bubbles. Plug sockets were plentiful and near both bedside tables, a detail so often missing and making it difficult to charge one’s phone overnight.

810_7350The rooms come with a mini bar/drinks including local gins and quality wines, and the television comes with a Netflix account. Normally I’d say that I don’t go to a hotel to stay in and watch television but there was something about The Bower House that made me want to actually relax and enjoy the room. It’s designed in a luxurious way, but one that doesn’t feel pretentious, just quality furnishings allowing you to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

810_7322The bathroom is huge, featuring ‘his n hers’ sinks, a deep bath tub as well as a large shower with a range of quality shampoos and lotions. Once again it strikes me that the designers /managers will have stayed in the room as the small details make it so functional. Separate towels for the bathtub and the shower area make for easier post bathing and even the addition of the full length mirror alongside the sink mirrors and make up mirror mean every eventuality is thought of.

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The stylish bar serves some great cocktails, some featuring twists on classics like the margarita with a dash of pear brandy and some foreign favourites like the Pisco Sour. The bar and dining area is a mix between modern and traditional, with old paintings on teal walls and vintage style drinks trolleys next to brightly upholstered chairs. 810_7401

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I enjoyed the ambience in the dining area. It’s clearly a popular location for a meal amongst guests at the hotel but also with customers travelling in from miles around to dine there. I opted for the Roasted Chorizo as a nibble for the table, followed by a perfectly done salt & pepper squid with homemade chilli jam.

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810_7449Desserts were excellent including the Treacle Tart and the chocolate fondant served with honeycomb. The Bower House is also a popular brunch spot, and on Saturdays the restaurant was a lively affair with families and couples choosing from American Pancake stacks, smoked salmon and poached eggs and other breakfast delights alongside  mimosas and a selection of coffees.810_7537For a fantastic nearby option for dinner or drinks is The Howard Arms. A cross between a local style pub with friendly regulars & small groups enjoying the bar, and smartly dressed couples dining in the restaurant area. As well as a selection of real ales they have some fantastic wines including a great English white which went excellently with the Cropwell Bishop stilton bon bon served with grilled pear. 810_7457

810_7474The Howard Arms offers both traditional favourites like fish & chips, and slight twists like the ham & duck egg, but also more fine dining presentations such as the ‘Ham Hock Rillete with crispy black pudding, soused vegetables and apple sauce.’ 810_7491

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Shipston on Stour is a very pleasant town with some great unique shops, independent boutiques & charming delis to spend a couple of days wandering around, and The Bower House makes an excellent luxury base from which to explore.

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The Bower House

The Howard Arms

 

What to do in The Black Forest

Getting around

Whilst it is possible to travel by public transport, so many of the beautiful scenic routes aren’t going  to be easy to navigate without your own transport, so it’s recommended you hire a car. We chose to hire from Basel Airport and did a full loop for the week, arriving back to the Swiss side of the airport. Parking is fairly easy around most of these sites, and generally free parking could be found.

Baden Wine Route

At around 500km long, the Baden wine route is considered to be the oldest wine trail in Germany. As well as a delightful drive for nature lovers through the pretty hills, it’s a place where people know how to live and enjoy food and of course drink to it’s fullest.

We started our drive with a visit to the Weber Winery located between the Rhine Plain and the Black Forest. It’s a cool looking building, quite “Grand Designs’, with a glass  front and modern interpretations of Black Forest traditional wear on photographs around the main room. Started almost 70 years ago, the winery also produces some special brandies and other specialities including a walnut liquor, and stores the bottles in racks that sink down to 50 meters deep into the hill. The staff here are fresh and fun and they host regular parties at the winery; ranging from simple tastings to huge parties of over 1000 people with top DJ’s.

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Amusingly before we arrived we’d seen that you can do a ‘wine tasting with traditional vesper’. I had images in my head of zooming around the vineyards on a scooter, but it turns out that a ‘vesper’ is in fact a snack plate. We were given a lovely selection of Black Forest treats including meats and cheeses, homemade bread and candied walnuts that taste like caramel.

As much as we didn’t get to ride scooters, Weber do offer tours of the vineyards by Segway, which is possibly even more fun! After a brief introduction and lesson on how to power it and more importantly, stop, we had a lovely hour zipping up and down the hills past the vines. It’s fairly easy to get the hang of, and certainly quite an unusual offering. The Weber Winery also offers a range of gifts including decorations and their popular t-shirts as well as of course their fantastic selection of beverages.

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Our second stop was Alde Gott,  the name comes from a legend during the Thirty Years’ War. Apparently a lonely young man was travelling through the area which is now known as Sasbachwalden. He was on his own but then came across a young woman and in his relief shouted out  ‘Der alde Gott lebt noch!’ which translates as ‘The old God still exists!” There are murals and mosaics to this legend around the winery as well as a marker in the hills as to where it supposedly happened.

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It’s located on the edge of the Black Forest and the Badische Weinstraße, and the surrounding hills are stunningly beautiful. We took a drive up to the vineyards and stood for a while taking in the views (as far as Strasbourg on a clear day), while watching the mist roll over the hills. There are some lovely buildings in the town that feel like something from a Disney movie, with their half timber frames with white & black colourings.

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We had a fantastic wine tasting here, including a wonderful Riesling, but Alde Gott doesn’t just offer wine. They are one of the only places in the region that make their own whiskey, and it’s a limited run each year making it extremely popular. In addition to this they also make a rich Black Forest Cherry cream liquor, a bit like a cherry eggnog, which is sure to go down a treat around Christmas time.

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Hiking trails in Baiersbronn

Ask at the tourist information centre next to the station in Baiersbronn and you can find out about the many hiking trails in the region. It’s a popular area for walking and the routes vary in difficulty, from the fairly easy which we did (bare in mind I walked this with a fractured ankle) to the more advanced for those used to much longer distances. Walks are tailored to the groups’ interests, and as well as the nature and scenic walks there are even foodie walks, including foraging and learning about the vegetation inside the forest.

We took the hiking tour along gourmand trail “Satteleisteig” to the cozy cabin
“Sattelei”. It’s a pleasant walk of around 4km that runs along the outside of the Black Forest with views over the valley. The region is famous for it’s incredibly clean area, and tourists often come from big cities all over the world to spend time in the country and detox/revitalise.

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The Cosy Cabin Sattelei  is clearly a popular lunch spot amongst hikers as well as locals. It is indeed a cosy spot, with fires, attentive staff, and at the time of writing, some lovely Christmas decorations.

The menu, whilst not having much for vegetarians as a big range of traditional food from the area including meat platters and a famous cottage cheese. All the portions were very generous and despite it being quite busy, we were served drinks within minutes of ordering.

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Solemar Bad Dürrheim

Bad Dürrheim is situated on the east of the Black Forest, it’s known as a spa and health area with a therapeutic climate. It’s a top destination for wellness due to it’s pleasant mountain climate, fresh air and the jewel in it’s crown, the Solemar spa and wellness centre.

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It’s a 13,500 m² area, including Black Forest saunas, warm salt water pools both inside and out, and a Dead Sea Salt Grotto. People travel from all over Germany for the treatment rooms here and for the physiotherapy rooms and fitness centre for rehabilitation after injuries. For those just interested in a relaxing day it’s a lovely environment with 13 indoor pools, many with hourly activities as well as a waterfall, loungers and in-pool massage nozzles.

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Menzenschwander Wasserfalle / Waterfall and The Black Forest itself

On the final day of our trip the snow we had been hoping for finally arrived. The beautiful forest transformed from the dark and dense wood we had been used to into a snow dusted fairytale. Starting in Hinterzarten, we drove towards Menzenschwander waterfall; a quiet, almost hidden spot with one of Germany’s top waterfalls.

The drive was one of the most scenic routes we took all week, the trees on either side of the road and looking like something from a movie, it’s easy to see how many fairytales originated in this area.
Luckily there were a lot of spots to stop and take in the views along the way and we took full advantage. There are a large number of well marked hiking trails to choose from as well, but it does get dark fairly easily in the forest so make sure to start out early and stick to marked paths.

 

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https://www.blackforest-tourism.com