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January flight sales – are you tempted?

With the dreariest months of the English winter still to come, are you desperate for a sunny, hot getaway?

If you are, there are some amazing bargains in the January flight sales to tempt you. With Norwegian amongst the airlines offering transatlantic flights, at prices now comparable with those of European flights.

Who are they?

Norwegian were named the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline’ for the third consecutive year in June 2017, at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. Voted for by the travelling public, Skytrax claims their industry awards are “the Oscars of the aviation industry”.

Now the largest airline in Scandinavia and the ninth-largest airline in Europe Norwegian offer a range of fare options. Their Premium fare receives the more favourable reviews.  At twice the price of the basic Low Fare, it isn’t economy class.

What do you get for your money?

Tripadvisor and Airline Quality reviews tell the true economy flight story. Comments on both the airline and the basic Low Fare are varied. Although cheap, Norwegian’s Low Fare is as basic as it comes. No food, no drinks, no blanket, pillow or headphones, no hold luggage and a restrictive 10k of hand luggage.

If you are aware of this ‘no frills’ fare, no problem, you can bring your own supplies. If being prepared isn’t your strong point, many of these elements can be purchased during the flight with a swipe of your credit card. Or better still, you can upgrade to the next level on the Norwegian airline fare scale, the Low Fare +.  Although this still doesn’t buy you any more than the standard 31 inches of legroom.

Budget airline vs the big players?

Norwegian’s basic Low Fare definitely undercuts the prices offered by the major league players. However, when comparing the more suitable Low Fare + to the equivalent, long-haul flights offered in the January sales by BA, Virgin Atlantic and even Air New Zealand, the price difference shrinks dramatically to less than £20.*

*Flight comparison Sat 17 Feb – Sat 3rd March 2018

Kernewek for businesses – why it makes sense

I attended this skills day out of curiosity, with an ambition to incorporate Kernewek, the Cornish language, into my work as a writer.

Heavily biased towards promoting the use of this unique language through marketing of existing products and businesses, the session was informative and engaging.

St Austell Brewery, represented by Chris Knight, was the perfect case study to highlight how this Southwestern Brittonic Celtic language can be put to good use. A prime example is one of the breweries best-selling beers Korev, which means ‘Beer’ in Cornish.

Our professional guide for the morning was Mark Trevethan, the Cornish Language Lead at Cornwall Council, who further enlightened us to the possibilities of using Kernewek. He showcased innovative uses of the language from road signs to prime time TV advertising.

Closer to home, Mark opened the door to integration by gently guiding us towards the various resources on offer. More importantly, he highlighted that incorporation of the Cornish language into the marketing strategy of Cornish businesses, will also hopefully benefit the wider Cornish Language agenda.

This well-organised event was delivered by Cornwall 365 at the well known creative hub, Krowji, in partnership with Cultivator and supported by the European Social Fund, Arts Council England and Cornwall Council.

Airport lounging

The concept of the airport lounge is not a new one, they have been the privilege of frequent flyers since the late 1930’s when American Airlines started the trend at New York’s LaGuardia airport. Originally a promotional tool to boost the airline’s bookings, the airport lounge has since become an expected perk by business class travellers.

First or business class lounges are still viewed as the pinnacle of luxury but, pay-per-use airport lounges are now an affordable alternative for economy travellers. Although not as well appointed, they still offer a welcome sanctuary from the noisy bustle of over climatised departure lounges. A safe haven to relax in comfy chairs with access to cleaner bathrooms, the internet, and multiple charging points.

For long-haul travelers with an enforced stopover, airport lounges offer a chance to regain a sense of routine after severe disruption to their body clocks. The regularity of mealtimes, a marker of normality in a day, is often thrown off balance when crossing multiple time zones. This displacement can easily be addressed by attacking the abundant food buffets on offer in most pay-per-use lounges. Breakfast, lunch and evening meal options are generally available and provide an added boost to the meagre in-flight meals. A hot shower,  massage or even a quick nap in a ‘sleep pod’ can help any traveller regain a sense of well being in preparation for the second or third leg of a long journey.

Priority Pass, Holiday Extras, and gosimply are just a few of the online services offering independent pre-bookable access starting from as little as £13.50. They offer a range of packages to suit your budget ranging from the length of stay, spa facilities, food and beverage options

Diners Club InternationalAmerican Express, and HSBC offer lounge access free to their account holders. The HSBC Premier account priority pass membership provides invaluable access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide.

So if you have a long flight and an airport lounge sounds like a great solution it may be worth checking with your credit card provider or bank before you pre-book a pay-per-use pass.

 

Volcanic ash disruption

When booking insurance cover for your holiday it always seems unlikely that those small clauses about terrorism of volcanic ash will ever be applicable to your holiday. However, the latest eruptions of Mount Agung in Bali are a prime example of such rare phenomenon. Unfortunately, they have left many travelers bewildered by the fine print as they closely inspect their insurance and airline rules & regulations for the cancellation information.

The ash cloud thrown into the airspace above northern Europe in April 2010 by the Icelandic eruptions caused panic amongst the European air industries and insurance companies. As a result, very few now offer cover for a volcanic incident.

The airlines are the only industry ready to offer full refunds or rescheduling at no extra cost in the event of cancellation due to such natural disasters.
Cathay Pacific, one of the biggest Asian airlines is currently advising passengers that, ‘flights still scheduled to operate may face disruption due to meteorological conditions on the day’, but that they will endeavor to update passengers with the latest status as soon as possible. However, this is little comfort to those who may be facing extra costs while their fleet is grounded.

Ironically coverforyou.com and Flexicover are two the many insurance companies who do not provide standard cover for missed departure claims arising directly or indirectly from volcanic eruptions and/or volcanic ash cloud. However, there is one receive some level of compensation if such an unlikely natural disaster arises. Only available in advance of your travel, bespoke Volcanic Ash Cover is available from Columbus and Aviva. These optional extra policies are the only way of guaranteeing you will be eligible to make a claim arising from the disruption caused by volcanic eruptions and the ash thrown into the atmosphere as a result.

Driving in Europe this winter – are you prepared?

As the first major snow of the season falls in Europe it is a timely reminder to skiers to organise all the little extras that will make their travels to and from the resort as hassle-free.

In the alpine regions of Switzerland, Italy, and Austria, significant levels of the white stuff have already fallen. Wepowder is predicting that depths in these areas will continue to build, bringing what could be a perfect start to the winter season for many snow lovers.

The increasing snow levels bring with them the possibility of difficult road conditions for many self-drivers, so it is essential to be prepared. In some European countries, it is obligatory to use snow tyres between November and March and most advise carrying a set of chains in high altitude areas in case of extreme weather conditions. If you aren’t properly equipped you could face a fine for causing a road obstruction and the AA recommends double-checking the fine print on your insurance policy for information on liability.

Be prepared…

If you are hiring a vehicle, double check that snow tyres or snow chains, or preferably both, are included in your rental package. Car rental company Hertz is one of the larger suppliers who offer a range of snow accessory packages in Switzerland, France, and Austria, which include both winter tyres and chains.

In most snowy conditions, snow tyres are enough, but extreme conditions or steep slopes inevitably require snow chains. Difficult to fit, it is best to be prepared and read the instructions in advance. Or if possible, practice putting them on before you ascend the mountain roads.

The little extras…

Other essential items to make the fitting process easier include a waterproof membrane to lay on the ground, a torch, a spare warm jacket, and gloves. If possible always choose a well-lit layby so you stay safe, away from passing traffic.

Shades of California – travels in Portugal

I recently ventured to Portugal on a work trip. It was the first time I had revisited the country since a child, and my memories were limited to the acrid smell of drying sardines, long sunbaked road trips and my mother having her bottom pinched.

This time my travels in João Rodrigues Cabrilho’s country of origin took me through densely planted eucalyptus and umbrella pine forests towards an overnight stop near the village of Santa Cruz.

No doubt named a long time before the Californian coastline town, the heat and the flora were remarkably similar. Even the ocean, which I had been desperate to escape into after a hot dusty drive, was shrouded in the fog which often hugs its Pacific counterpart.

The next day the similarities to the sunshine state continued. Comporta, on the edge of  ‘Portugals best secret beach spot’, resembled a deserted Mexican style Hollywood stage set, complete with storks, nesting high on telephone poles and church bell towers.

To enter the bustling metropolis of Lisbon, I was transported over the water on a slightly flimsier version of the sunshine state’s jewel in the crown, the golden gate bridge, only to be faced with a swarm of brightly coloured vintage trams as I negotiated a pathway through the narrow streets to meet friends for lunch.

Thankfully, my new memories of the country are of the coastline which so resembles one of my favourite destinations in America, the overwhelming beauty of the tile-clad buildings and the refreshing taste of Vino Verde.

In Dark Places – the launch

Unfortunately, I was in Yorkshire and couldn’t attend the launch of the book I have recently project managed with Wyl Menmuir. The fireside event to publicise its release was hosted at the South West Outdoor Festival on September 9th. Reasonably well attended, the launch was a success and some of my team published a great write up of their weekend…

…A small group of students and tutors from Falmouth University headed for the rocky hills of Cheddar Gorge, to the South West Outdoor Festival, for the final push of a year-long publishing project in collaboration with Wyl Menmuir and The National Trust.

Our first task was setting up the banner for the book launch. A few giggles escaped our puzzled faces as we battled the raging wind, which threatened the stability of our tent. It took us a while, but with patience and strategically tied ropes, we finally secured the banner in place. Job done for the night, we snuggled up in our sleeping bags ready for the launch the following day.

After coffee and breakfast, and we were on the move, taking turns manning the book tent, spreading the word about our fireside ghost story reading that night, and worrying whether the rain would ruin our lovely evening or not. But the weather kept with us, and not long after seven, the fireside was packed.
Against a beautiful display of the sun seeping into the hills, Wyl read out an excerpt from  In Dark Places. Adults and children alike were drawn in by his lively reading, and the story came to life before our eyes, animating the flames.

by Holly Cara Farr and Adriana Ciontea

 

The final show – Authorial Practice

Last night saw the end of the academic year for the MA Authorial Practice Students.

In a small gathering in Lamorva House, Falmouth we celebrated the ingenuity and creativity of this year’s graduates who have explored the medium of illustration to its fullest potential.Their work was inspiring and of outstanding quality, bordering on fine art with in-depth thinking and profound, explorative concepts.

It wasn’t any great surprise that the graduate’s work was so exceptional, as the course is ‘one of its kind’ run by dedicated staff, with an academic focus on personal origination in storytelling.

On paper, it sounds too good to be true. In reality, it seems to be delivering all it promises. I’m quite tempted to sign myself up!

Only 25 days until the official launch

The South West Outdoor Festival is just 25 days away, that’s less than 4 weeks until our little book is released into the public domain.

As the “first collaborative publishing venture of its kind” between the National Trust and Falmouth University, publishing best magazine The Bookseller has kick-started our latest publicity drive with a great write up of the joint venture.

Read the complete article for more information on this groundbreaking project…

The Nick Darke Awards

The Nick Darke Writers’ Award 2017 entries closed in late May this year, after which a group of staff and students was set the task of reading every one of the 950 scripts.

Ranging in length from 20 to 150 pages this was no mean feat. As one of the volunteer readers, I read over ten scripts in under a month, all of which varied enormously not only in length but in theme and quality too.The shortlist is announced on the 1st September and the winner is announced at an awards ceremony on the 11th November.

Established in 2006 the wards we created to celebrate the best writing for stage, screen and radio. Funded by Falmouth University’s Academy of Music and Theatre Arts, and the School of Writing & Journalism, The Nick Darke Writers’ Award commemorates the playwright Nick Darke who wrote in many forms but earned his living in the world of theatre, screen and radio.

Open to all national and international writers aged 16 or over, the £6,000 Award provides the time to write that financial support facilitates.