Whether your idea of fun is building sandcastles or clambering over real castles, romping through the countryside or slumping by the poolside, this title picks the best places for you to unwind within two hours travel by rail or road from London. Divided into more than 40 individual breaks, both town and country, this guide offers an opinionated introduction to each place, plus all the information you need on how to get there, where to stay, what to do once you're there and the best of local eating options.
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The Time Out series of travel guides has established itself as one of the most valuable series on the market today: unpretentious, sharp-eyed, authoritative and always totally accessible. In fact one runs out of adjectives for a book such as Weekend Breaks from London: anybody who cares to sample a couple of the breaks from this second edition will quickly regard this as the perfect companion to dwellers in the Smoke. The destinations here range from cities to swathes of the countryside or the astonishing beauty of the seaside. But wherever we are pointed, we are guided to the best places to stay, from quality B&Bs to more luxurious country house hotels. Needless to say, the essential sites and attractions of each area are detailed along with pithy, opinionated guides to local eateries and bars. In fact, it's the upfront opinions that distinguish this series: again and again the entries are expertly judged essays on everything from Canterbury Cathedral to "small and perfectly formed" Rutland with its calming reservoir, Rutland Water. And the opinions are very far from the usual fluff that fills such guides--take this description of Stonehenge, for instance:
You now have to pay £4.20 to see these big stones--and you still can't get close. There's also a money-spinning souvenir shop where you can even buy such neolithic memorabilia as Heritage Mustard. Impressive as the stones are, going to see them is a bit like renting your DVD player from the burglar who nicked it.But while these warnings are valuable, it's the enthusiastic recommendations that make this a joy to use. It goes without saying that the detailed maps are invaluable, and colour photographs evoke some of the most beautiful and characterful sites in Britain. -- Barry Forshaw
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