Tom's Britain - Exploring places of interest and things to do in England, Wales & Scotland

27 February 2016

Ski at Glenshee

When you go skiing in Scotland, you always take a bit of a gamble with the weather, and last weekend's jaunt demonstrated that very well. Originally, your author had planned to mark the 60th anniversary of Glencoe ski area with some skiing there. However, come Saturday morning a small party was hauled up in a cafe on the outskirts of Glasgow with heads cloudy from the previous night's festivities, to find that Glencoe was closed due to high winds. The result was a last-minute dash to Glenshee in the Cairngorms National Park for some very windy skiing.

As far as British skiing goes, Glenshee is about the best we have to offer. It's our largest resort, with with 21 lifts over 4 mountains and 3 valleys, and they've been skiing here since at least the 1930s, with the first rope tows installed in 1957, with even a chairlift as early as 1962.

However, last weekend visibility was low, the wind was very cold and at one point your author planted his face in a bank of snow rather hard. It was rather a shame for those there last weekend that the week before and the week after witnessed clear blue skies,  but the runs were open and in places the snow was very good. Plus, there was one room left at the excellent Braemar Hostel, a functional dinner and ale was on offer at the Invercauld Arms and the Moorfield House Hotel in Braemar had a fire and some good whisky to warm the group up again. And anyway, skiing on the continent often has its bad weekends.

A good feed on Friday was had at Stravaigin in Glasgow's West End, the drive between Glenshee and Glasgow Airport took less than two and a half hours, and car hire is very reasonable. Ski pass and hire cost around £50 a day and the whole trip cost more than your author cares to remember.

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8 February 2016

Things to do in Britain in February

The shortest month at the tail end of winter, February often gets overlooked by those organising interesting events, as commercial imperatives focus the mind on Valentine's Day mid-month, from which cash usually flows. Nevertheless, there are some good things to see and do for those willing to travel. A selection are reproduced below.

Olney Pancake Race, Olney, Buckinghamshire

Shrove Tuesday - 9th February 2016, 8.30am - 1pm

A village tradition dating back to at least 1445, the Olney Pancake Race was revived in 1948 by Reverend Canon Ronald Collins, the Vicar of Olney. Legend has it that the race began when a local housewife - busy cooking pancakes in anticipation of the beginning of Lent - heard the Shrove Tuesday "Shriving Bell" pealing from the Church of St Peter and St Paul and ran to church, still with her pancake pan in hand.

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Chinese New Year, London

Sunday 14th February - All day

London welcomes the Year of the Monkey on Sunday 14th February, with music, dance, food and drink from 10am in Trafalgar Square, on Wardour & Gerrard Streets and on Shaftesbury Avenue, with highlights including Szechuan Opera and a monkey-themed finale with fireworks and projection on Nelson’s Column.

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Jorvik Viking Festival

York - 15th to 21st February 2016

Vikings return to York for the annual festival of fighting, shouting, lectures, guided walks and battle re-enactments which attracts around 40,000 visitors to the city during February-half-term, the ancient moment when young Viking warriors got a week off school to spend time with their grandparents. The finale takes place on 20th February and sees the Castle Green become thr fiery battleground the infamous Battle of Assundun.

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Alcester Winter Folk Festival

Alcester, Warwickshire - 19th - 21st February 2016

Music, workshops, storytelling and sessions for a weekend  the Holly Bush in Alcester,  a Warwickshire market town famous for its Roman history. The pub was taken over last year by Nigel Smith, who supplies bars to the Bromyard and Warwick Folk Festivals, making it a great place for Folk.

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The Scottish Snowdrop Festival

It's snowdrop season, and Visit Scotland have gathered together nearly 60 events where you can go and gawp at white flowers on a background of green, all around he country at castles, botanical gardens and observatories.

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