Thursday, 31 July 2014

Whitehorse Hill: A Prehistoric Dartmoor Discovery

We recently provided sponsorship for Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery’s forthcoming autumn exhibition, ‘Whitehorse Hill: A Prehistoric Dartmoor Discovery’.

The exhibition will feature some amazing archaeological finds dating back to the Bronze Age, a brilliant glimpse into the personal and prized possessions of someone who lived on the moor nearly 4,000 years ago.

The finds were discovered within a stone chest burial (a ‘cist’) at Whitehorse Hill, a remote moorland ridge on northern Dartmoor, over 600 metres above sea level. The cist contained the cremated remains of what is believed to be a female aged 15-25 years old.

One of the most amazing and exciting finds was a bag containing two pairs of wooden studs or ‘labrets’. These may have been used as body or clothing adornments and are the earliest evidence for wood turning in the UK.

The bag also held a group of over 200 beads (pictured above). This is by far the largest number excavated from a single early Bronze Age site in South West England. They could have once formed a spectacular necklace.

Many of the beads are made from clay not local to Dartmoor. Others are made of shale from Dorset. A cylindrical tin bead and traces of a second tin bead are the earliest examples of tin ever to be found on Dartmoor. Seven amber beads suggest this was a high status burial as amber is an exotic resin from the Baltic, often associated with supernatural powers.

There will be a series of events too, including lectures, gallery talks and family-friendly workshops. The exhibition will be open 
at the Museum and Art Gallery from 10am to 5.30pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays, free of charge.

More information about the exhibition is available from

Friday, 25 July 2014

Thrilling sights in air and on sea

You can see magnificent men in their flying and sailing machines this summer, with two fantastic events to take in:

On Thursday 31st July, the 2014 Culdrose Air Day offers the exciting opportunity to meet the Fleet Air Arm, the Royal Navy’s flying force, the only day of the year when the public can step into the world of Culdrose and experience the sights and sounds of a working military Naval Air Station.

Prepare to be blown away by awesome flying displays, as Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose is home to a variety of military aircraft including Merlin and Sea King helicopters, Hawk Jets, and the King Air 350 Avengers.

And don’t forget the 3,000 people based at Culdrose – those who fly and many more who help them to get airborne. Visitors will be able to meet the heroic aircrew who fly helicopters around the world, get up close to state-of-the art aircraft and learn all about life in the Royal Navy.

Ticket prices: Adult (16+): £17, Child (5-15yrs): £6, Family £40

If rolling seas are more your thing, head along to Falmouth from 28th to 31st August when 47 Sail Training vessels from around the world, including 12 of the magnificent square sail Tall Ships, will arrive for one of the biggest international sailing events in solely English waters.

There’s a packed programme of shore side entertainment from 11.00am to 11.00pm daily, most of which is free, including free access to board the largest ships in The Docks (dependant on tides). This is a rare opportunity to explore on deck and learn about life on board these giants of the sea.

The ships will leave Falmouth in a spectacular Parade of Sail to the start line off Falmouth Bay on Sunday 31st August, from 11.00am to 2.00pm.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Vote for Helpful Holidays...

... in the British Travel Awards. For the fourth year running, we've been nominated for the 'Best UK Holiday Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company' category but we need your help to win!

Last year we were delighted to scoop top spot and win gold in our category and we'd love to match that great result this year. We're one of several companies nominated for this category, so we need your votes to have a chance of winning again.

The British Travel Awards are widely considered the 'Oscars' of the travel industry, so we'd love to do well. Please ask your friends and family to vote too - their votes could make all the difference. The closing date for voting is 30th September.

Having trouble registering your vote?

Navigating websites isn't always as straightforward as their designers would like us to believe, so this step-by-step guide may help:

Click here to open the voting area of the BTA website.
  • Enter your details on the voting registration form and click 'Submit'.
  • You'll arrive at the voting form headed 'How to complete the form'.
  • Scroll down and click the heading, ''Who are the best UK holiday companies and visitor attractions?'
  • Select and click the 'Best UK Holiday Cottage/Self Catering Booking Company' category from the drop-down menu.
  • Select and click 'Helpful Holidays' from the list of nominations.
  • Scroll down the page to click on the 'Submit' button to complete your vote.

Please note, there's no obligation to vote in every category, just those in which you're interested.

Thank you for taking the time to vote for Helpful Holidays in these prestigious awards.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

West Country summer festivals

It’s amazing how many events and festivals pop up across the West Country each summer – no matter which week or month you choose to take your holiday, you’ll find yourself choosing from a fantastic selection of things to do. Here are a few to illustrate our point!

‘Lafrowda’ means 'Church of the Good Cross' in Cornish, and the Lafrowda Festival in St Just, from 4th to 19th July is a great community occasion with giant willow floats, stalls, music and merrymaking around the town square. And to top it all, there's Lafrowda pudding served with lashings of clotted cream.

If you’re a seafood lover, try the Rock Oyster Festival at (where else?) Rock on 12th July, where you’ll find a big farmer's market and delicious Porthilly oysters. Or try Dorset Seafood Festival, which takes place around Weymouth's historic harbour on 12th and 13th July. There's Pommery champagne with fresh oysters, live cooking demonstrations, music from the Fishwives Choir, the Exmouth Shanty Men and the great British Whelk Revival.

For something slightly different and absolutely stunning, head along to Somerset Steam Spectacular and Country Fair at Low Ham, near Langport, on 18th July. Here you’ll see no less than 40 steam traction engines plus vintage and classic cars and motorcycles, vintage tractors and displays of steam ploughing. All this, plus a market and craft area, licenced bar and refreshments, fun fair and children's rides.

After all that steam and engine revving you’ll perhaps appreciate kicking back and listening to some music. The Chagstock Festival returns with a Wild West theme for its 5th year on the northern slopes of Dartmoor on 18th and 19th July. This year's line-up includes The Waterboys, The Lightning Seeds and Steve Knightly from Show of Hands. Watch out for the Hatherleigh Ukele Bashers, with vocals, in the Live Lounge.

And finally, for some prehistoric fun, why not become a dinosaur hunter at Eden Project this summer? Thanks to the launch of Dinosaurs Unleashed, the Eden Project will be transformed into a prehistoric world inhabited by the terrifying scaly monsters that ruled the earth some 67 million years ago. Explorer Field Stations are to be set up throughout the venue, where visitors will be able to learn all about some of the famous explorers who have helped us piece together our knowledge of these ancient creatures. Dinosaurs Unleashed is set to open on July 21st and will run until September 2nd, giving you the entirety of the summer holidays to check it out.

To find holiday cottages near each of these locations, go to the Helpful Holidays website or call 01647 433593.