There could hardly be a better time for a book on things to do in Britain that cost nothing. With the downturn in economies worldwide, many families are forced to cut back drastically on vacations and outings. However, with the excitement of the Royal wedding attracting increased interest in travel to Britain, and the 2012 Olympics in London only a few months away, now is a great time to plan a trip to Britain.
Ben and Dinah Hatch have written a guide that includes some of the quirkier, little known and downright weird attractions in Britain that also happen to be free. Frommer’s Britain for Free is equally useful to visitors and to residents of Britain. I have lived in London for over 40 years and was drawn into the book by the amazing depth and range of interesting facts uncovered by the authors. Although it’s a guide to source attractions by area, it’s easy to get side-tracked by some of the titles: ‘Watch the Silliest Sport in Britain at the Westelton Barrell Fair’, ‘Shout: “Don’t Tell Him Your Name, Pike”, at the Dad’s Army Museum’, ‘Play Pooh-Sticks at Winnie the Pooh’s Favourite Spot’, ‘See the White Lady Ghost at Queen’s House’, ‘Hear about the Deranged Nun at the Bank of England Museum’.
Inevitably in a book of this type, covering not only London but all of England by area plus Wales and Scotland, there will be more attractions left out than can possibly be included. However, those selected all fit the main criteria (free or, in one or two cases, very cheap), are well researched and the descriptions are given a personal touch in an engaging, light hearted style that both entertains the reader and makes choosing which attractions to visit easy (well, easier – it’s often hard to choose!).
The authors’ tips, especially the starred entries (Special find – the places only insiders know about), make this a unique guide for inspiration and ideas for cheap days out. Ben and Dinah come across as ‘real’ people, honestly accessing the attractions visited with their own children. There can no stronger judge of the attractions that rate well than having an easily bored young child in tow!
Each entry includes the address of the attraction, phone number, opening times, website and (for London) the closest Tube station. Amenities available are indicated by a number of icons. Having recently become a grandmother, a reminder of the difficulty in accessing some places with buggies or finding good spots for feeding and changing babies, I was pleased to see that the icons included many indicating child (and parent) friendly amenities.
One of the many advantages of arranging a home exchange vacation (apart from no costs for accommodation, having all the facilities of a fully equipped home, etc) is that home swappers leave lots of insider information for their guests. Along with the practical (e.g. emergency contact details for doctor, local police and hospital), Home Base Holidays members leave large folders of useful information on favourite local attractions and activities, restaurants and shops. Frommer’s Britain for Free would make an ideal addition to the information provided by members in Britain and for members from abroad to buy before their trip to plan the attractions they want to see while on a home exchange in Britain.
Book review by Lois Sealey, Home Base Holidays
Frommer's Britain for Free (Great Days Out that Won’t Break the Bank)
Paperback: 262 pages
See detailed information, read excerpts and order a copy at Frommer's store.