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As the holiday season is looming, now is the time to start wondering where our passport is and if it is still valid! Because it is far too easy to get bogged down under the paperwork requirements for these important documents, so we thought we would reignited our love for passports with some interesting facts about them!

You can’t wear a uniform in the US passport photo

Your passport photos will be rejected in the United States if you are wearing a uniform of ANY kind. This includes military and law enforcement uniforms; diplomats, other officials, pilots and flight officials may get approved though…

Turkey has the most expensive passport

A Turkish passport is the most expensive in the world, costing an enormous sum of £215. Many countries around the world charge between £30 and £80 for an adult passport.

Among the cheapest are UAE at £9 and Swaziland charge a mere £2.50!

People collect immigration stamps

Collecting passport stamps is a ‘thing’, and it’s not uncommon for people with this hobby to take specific routes with various stop offs to collect the ‘badges of honour’.

Among the most coveted are the micro nation of Akhzivland, Antarctica, Easter Island, and Mongolia.

I’d imagine Antarctica is particularly difficult seeing as in order to visit you must be working at a scientific research station.

The UK Passport is the 3rd Most Powerful in the world

According to CS Global’s ‘Visa Free Digest’, the UK has “dropped” to 3rd position in the world strongest passport, offering visa free access to 175 countries across the globe.

The UK now sits behind Germany in the number one spot, offering access to 177 countries and Sweden in the 2nd position, with access to 176.

The top positions have a tendency to jostle due to new agreements regularly being made between governments.

Biometric passports hold a lot of personal information

Also known as ePassports or digital passports, these modern documents use biometric information to determine the authenticity of the identity of the traveller.

The microchip embedded into the passport book, stores the information from a system that uses facial recognition, fingerprint recognition and iris recognition making it incredibly difficult to travel on a forged passport.

Armenia & Azerbaijan have a love/hate passport relationship

Whilst Azerbaijan refuses entry to individuals with an Armenian passport due to the Nagorno Karabakh war that began in 1988, those with a passport from Azerbaijan have visa free entry into Armenia.

The Finnish Passport Doubles as a Flipbook

The passports that were issues since 2012 received a lot of media attention due to a fun, quirky feature.

The document doubles as a flipbook of a walking moose through its pages.

The Norwegian Passport has a hidden image

Often regarded as ‘the coolest’ passport on earth, Norway have positioned themselves at the top of yet another league table. Not only have they ditched the traditional dull navy or maroon tones, and opting for passport covers in white, turquoise or coral, they have also added for a beautiful security feature.

The UV security image features the Northern Lights, only visible when it is placed under black light.


Between 1948 and 1952, all Israeli passports were stamped with this message.

Due to the atrocities carried out in the Holocaust, it was considered improper for Israeli’s to travel to Germany unless on state approved business.

Israel actually refused to enter into any diplomatic relations with Germany until 1965.

The Queen Doesn’t Need a Passport

Yes, you reads that correctly.  UK passports contains images of the Royal arms and they are issued in the name of Her Majesty, deeming it unnecessary for her to have one.

This only applies to The Queen – all other members of the Royal Family are required to have a passport to travel.


It was USA Today which declared that Houston is the ‘dining-out capital of the nation’ due to the fact those living there eat out more often than any other city in America. It’s inexpensive to eat great food which is always going to be a deciding factor when planning a vacation entertainment budget, so with the average number of nights out being three times a week to the 9000 restaurants across the area nicknamed the Space City, here’s the other reasons why Houston is a great place to dine.


The three most popular styles of food in Houston are Lousiana Creole, Tex-Mex and Vietnamese. Whether established chains or niche boutique restaurants, the flavors of these styles of gourmet eating permeate much of the city. For those celebrating a birthday or the acceptance of a wedding proposal and have been shopping for Houston jewelry, the colors and flavors of Houston food are unique.

You’ll find fantastic fresh seafood combined with spices of the Far East and Mexican heat mixed with home-reared Texan beef. Close by Louisiana offers the creole taste from those who moved to Texas a hundred years ago and the result is a mouth-watering mix of fantastic places to try.

Ease of opening a restaurant

Houston is a little unusual in local planning rules in that it has a no-zoning policy. This means that there’s freedom to open a restaurant pretty much anywhere, so there’s no need to travel to a particular part of the city to eat out as there will be a varied choice on your doorstep or just a few feet away from your hotel room.

The freeway

Compared to many cities in the USA, the freeway of Houston is excellent and offers fantastic accessibility in and around the center. Aside from problems during rush hour, the city is only 15 minutes or so away for anyone in the suburbs so it’s quick and simple to just hop in the car or on a bus and enjoy a night out without the stress of knowing there will be a traffic jam to contend with in either or both directions.

Low cost of living

Comparatively speaking, Houston has a very low cost of living. This means that any excess salary is available for entertainment and it’s now become the norm for it to be channeled into dining out. Labor costs are lower in restaurants than locations such as San Francisco or New York for example and in turn this means that food can be offered at a lower price.

Large numbers of residents

There are over six million people in the rail metro area of Houston. It’s a huge conurbation to feed and combined with the lack of hoops to jump through to open a restaurant, it means that there’s plenty of choice available. This has also created a competitive market; why would a family keep visiting a mediocre restaurant when there are plenty of fantastic ones within a few minutes’ drive?

Eating out then in Houston is a myriad of positive elements which combine to make a great experience at any time of the day or night. Whether it’s shrimp, fried fish or grilled meat and salsa, you’ll never go short of a menu full of flavor – and all at a great price.


When most people think about skiing holidays, inexpensive and affordable are not the first words that come to mind.  However, there are several ways you can reduce the overall price of a trip on the slopes, if you the right places to look and when.  That is aim of this post, to educate you on some tips that will help you save money on your next or first skiing trip.

Book Last Minute

The best offers are usually available very early or very late into the season.  This means for most skiing resorts that this would be the last couple of weeks in December and April.  Keep a close eye on the snow report, but try and leave it as late as possible before you book because the closer you book your time away to when you actually leave, the more you will save.

Book Away From The Crowds

Okay, so you may have your heart set on travelling to what are considered the Big 5 in terms of skiing experiences – Germany, Italy, France, Austria and Switzerland.  The best way to do this while saving some money in the process is to research and book with one of the lesser known resorts.  If you are really looking to save a lot of money however, you need to look at going to Eastern Europe for your trip.  Particularly to places such as Slovakia where the snow is still plentiful but the bill is a mere fraction of some of the better known, popular places.

Rent and Borrow Equipment And Clothes

If your trip will be the first or even second time you have been skiing, it makes much more sense to borrow equipment and clothes from friends if you can.  This is how most people do it, because at beginner level skiing is not the most budget-friendly sporting activity when it comes to the accessories you need.  If you can’t borrow you should look at renting and there are many places up and down the country that offer this kind of service for very reasonable prices.

With regards to equipment such as boots and skis, try and pre-book these when you can online.  You may have the option to book them separately or as part of your holiday package.  As well as giving you the chance to ride on top-notch equipment, it will also save you a pretty penny in baggage fees.

Research Your Lift Pass Options

Many of the package ski holiday deals offer deals on lift passes too.  However, it is always recommended that you have a good look around at other offers because often you will be able to get them cheaper if you buy them separately.

Consider Taking A Shorter Break

Another option that has become more popular in recent years is taking a shorter more tailormade skiing break.  These enable you to fine-tune your holiday so that you can get the maximum amount of slope time in a gorgeous location without needing to take too much time out of your busy work schedule.


Are you planning a trip to the Kenton area? If you answered yes, then now is the time to start planning. There are a number of things to do in this city and planning out your activities is the best way to see them all. For most people, getting around during a vacation is one of their main worries. Finding the right harrow mini cabs can help a person to reduce this type of worry significantly. The following are some of the things that a person will need to consider when trying to find the right company to supply Kenton Mini Cabs.

A Good Reputation Goes a Long Way

Finding a company that has a good reputation in the community will help a person make the right hire in a hurry. Taking the time to assess the reputation of a particular company will help a person get all of the information that they need. Usually, there will be a number of different customer reviews that a person can look at to gauge how well a company has performed in the past. The more you are able to find out about the cab companies in the area, the faster you will be able to make the right decision.

The Availability Factor

The next factor that you will need to think about when trying to hire the right cab company is their availability. The last thing that you will need to do is leave your transportation to chance due to the negative consequences this can bring. Taking the time to call the cab companies can help you find out about their level of availability. Finding a company that will be at your beckon call during your stay can be very beneficial.

Can You Get a Deal?

When on vacation, most people are very tight with their money due to their desire to do as much as possible. Hiring a cab company that can provide quality services without charging too much should be a main goal. Calling each of the cab companies in the area will give you an idea of who can best meet the needs that you have. In some cases, you may be able to take advantage of a special a company is running. The effort that you put into this will pay off when you are able to save money.

Hiring the right cab company can make your vacation less stressful and more enjoyable. The money paid for a great cab company is well worth it.


No matter where you plan to travel this year, discovering the best cuisine should be a top priority. The last thing you want is to dine at fast food restaurants during your break. However, it can be tricky to find the tastiest food if you’re not local. Tourist restaurants will charge over the odds for average meals. Those of you who want to eat something fantastic for a change should take some advice from this post. Most of what I’m going to cover should come down to common sense. However, I think going over it today could help to ensure you don’t overlook any important strategies.



  • Research before leaving home



Getting an internet connection in a foreign country can be difficult. That is especially the case if you plan to travel to the Middle East. With that in mind, you should always do some research into the best eateries before leaving home. That is the best course of action, regardless of where you might be going. Even if you can get an internet connection, the roaming charges are certain to be extortionate. You need to know where you can get the best breakfast, best lunch, and best evening meals. So long as you have that information, you just have to find them when you land.



  • Buy local food books and magazines



Unless you’re traveling to a third-world country, it should be easy to find food-related publications. Just head to any store that sells newspapers. They should have a whole shelf of magazines that will come in handy. Take some inspiration from the articles, and you should discover a whole world of fantastic food businesses. There are also sure to be many books you can purchase on the subject. Restaurant owners invest an incredible amount of cash promoting their establishments in that manner. So, you are guaranteed to find something suitable.



  • Ask people on the street



In most locations, you will discover that local people are very friendly. That is especially the case when they realize you are a tourist. Considering that, you shouldn’t be afraid of asking for recommendations. When all’s said and done, the people living in that area are best placed to offer advice. They will know which restaurants overcharge, and which offer the best cuisine. Their take on the situation should be much more honest and reliable than anything you might read in a book.



  • Consider your preferences



Wherever you might travel for your short break, it’s vital that you think about which foods you enjoy. Those of you who hate pasta are not going to have a good meal in even the most upmarket Italian restaurant. Do you see what I’m saying? You must look for food businesses that provide meals that suit your taste buds. Sushi is not something you should consider unless you have a palette for raw fish. In most instances, you should stick with what you know. However, brave people will try to think outside of the box and try something new.


Good luck with finding the best food businesses on your next break. The suggestions I’ve just made should make your life easier. Feel free to drop me an email if you find any amazing restaurants on your travels. I’m always on the lookout for new places to eat when I visit other countries.




Scotland is one of those places that is never the same twice. You can go back to the same spot on several occasions but the experience will be different each time. Every city is unique. Come out of the cities and experience landscapes like nowhere else on Earth. Here is your ultimate guide to the bits you’ve heard of and the bits you never knew existed in Scotland:


This gorgeous city is a firm favourite with tourists from all over the globe. It may be best known for its Fringe Festival but Edinburgh can offer you far more than street theatre. The Fringe Festival itself now runs for much longer. You could see what makes this form of theatre and entertainment so popular in this setting. When you’re off season in Edinburgh, you still have some of the best restaurants and tearooms to enjoy.


Edinburgh Tattoo pic from Flickr.com

The Highlands

Up in the far North of the country, the terrain becomes wild and unpredictable. The weather can be so changeable that you never can tell what you’re going to get. The North West of Scotland is definitely the place to go if you want to get away from it all. Stunning scenery and remote locations are what a holiday here is about. Check out accommodation choices from places like http://www.selfcatering-scotland.net/ to see just how incredible the views from your hot tub can be!


Eilean Donan Castle pic from Flickr.com


Inverness is a northern city of Scotland. It is famed for its castles and clans. Loch Ness is nearby if you fancy trying to spot the famed ‘monster’. Take a tour of the city, or visit the castles. They offer a unique insight to some of Scotland’s most fantastic histories. Many visitors enjoy the vast number of independent shops. They sell interesting Scottish foods and memorabilia. The markets, in particular, are a great place to hang out.


Inverness Castle pic from Flickr.com


Aberdeen, in the far East of Scotland, is a great city to visit. The surrounding area is great for hikes and walks, whatever your fitness level. People visit Aberdeen for the coast. It is magnificent at any time of year, and quite exhilarating to stand on the cliffs. Fishing, golf and surfing are particularly popular pastimes here. Of course, this is Scotland, so you need to be pretty hardy to brave the waters here! It’s cold, it’s windy, and it could be the adventure of your life. Wait for the winter to enjoy some of the best snowsports in the country.


Glasgow is only a short distance from Edinburgh. It is a completely different city, though. Away from the traditional tourist haunts, you can find out what life in Scotland is really like. Visit some of the local pubs and enjoy a match at the football ground for a flavour of modern Glasgow. For culture and history, Glasgow offers everything you need too. There is some fantastic architecture in the city centre. You can visit some of the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Or head back further in time for a taste of Victorian Scotland.

Scotland is a beautiful place to visit. It may be a small country but don’t think you can see it all in one visit. Make the most of your holidays this year with a stop in Scotland.



When it comes to travel inspiration, Facebook is a brilliant place to clue up on hot new Asian destinations, unique experiences, secluded beaches, and resorts off the beaten track.  Give the below a ‘Like’ and make sure you’re in the know:

Visit Japan from the UK

Keen to visit Japan? Follow this page and receive updates and photos from the Japan National Tourism Organization. Be prepared for plenty of endearingly bizarre Japan facts! Their photographic posts alone are enough to have you booking your tickets without hesitation, but their unique tips and dining advice is worth a read too.

Insider Journeys

Insider Journeys are a fantastic Asia specialist tour operator, so it’s no surprise their Facebook page is packed with inspiring photos, interviews, top tips and links to their absorbing blog content. Travelling to 11 countries in Asia, their Facebook page is a great way to seek inspiration and advice from their specialist team who will always reply to posts on the page with insider tips and ideas.

Oriental Ballooning

Taking a balloon ride across Asia an unforgettable experience. The Facebook page of Oriental Ballooning will ensure your newsfeed is populated with stunning photos of their fleet cruising over some of Asia’s most iconic sites, like the temples of Bagan in Burma. Start saving up!

Hot Thai Kitchen

Like Thai food? The Facebook page of this popular cooking show is bursting with mouth-watering photos of tasty Thai dishes and easy-to-follow recipes. Run by the engaging and charismatic Pai Chongchitnant, a Thai national now living in Vancouver, this page will bring lesser-known delicacies to your newsfeed including refreshing deserts, light salads and delicious dipping sauces.


Saigoneer is the place to go for events and news taking place in Vietnam’s vibrant capital. Brining you the stories important to locals and travellers alike, the Saigoneer Facebook page gives you a glimpse of daily life in the city, with posts on cuisine, culture, arts and events and exceptional photography.


As you move further and further away from London and the bustle in the south, and head to the North of England, the parks and gardens get even more spectacular than you’d think. Plan your day and see some beautiful landscapes and well crafted gardens.

Nestled in Belsay, Northumberland, just 14 miles from Newcastle city centre is Belsay Castle which features a mighty 30 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens. Both the quarry gardens and the Cragwood Walk are two special features of the gardens. Sir Charles Monck built the present Belsay Castle hall and noticed the potential within the stone quarries so introduced an array of rare specimens into them to create a garden full of beauty. To get to the beautiful gardens nestled around Belsay castle book your train tickets to Morpeth which is only 10 miles from the castle grounds.

A mere 14 miles from York city centre sits Castle Howard in the North Yorkshire countryside which is one of Yorkshire’s finest stately homes, with historic and beautiful gardens. The 18th century palace is surrounded by 1,000 acres of landscaped gardens which you can explore full of extensive woodland walks, lakes, fountains, and breathtaking views throughout. Part of the garden is walled off and transformed into a garden of roses with over 400 old roses, which is dedicated to the memory of Lady Cecilia Howard. You can reach the castle from pretty much anywhere in the UK by getting a rail from York to Malton in just 24 minutes. You can even make a day trip from London, with trains taking only two hours to get to York.

10 miles north of Harrogate in North Yorkshire sits Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden which developed from its humble beginnings as a magnificent abbey which was established by monks. The green lawns of the abbey stretch down the riverside which makes for the perfect spot for a picnic. The Royal Water Garden is one of the best surviving examples of a Georgian water garden, and the garden is full of tranquil ornamental lakes, temples and dramatic eye-catching vistas. If you visit in autumn the colours of the garden are warming and opulent, perfect for a romantic walk. Hop on a train to Harrogate from Leeds or York which if you book your rail tickets in advance isn’t much more expensive than the bus from York!

Located in the heart of Chester is the Chester Zoo which is not just famous for its animals, but is also home to award-winning gardens which are maintained by the zoos horticulture and botany team. Over the past few years a number of new features have been introduced including a secluded Sunken Garden, a Roman Garden, a Rock Garden, Plant Paradise which has two of our nursery greenhouses, a collection of prickly cacti and much more. Alongside the gardens themselves the keepers like to produce natural looking environments for the animals so the beautiful scenery isn’t just restricted to the gardens.

As you can see there are lots of choices of beautiful gardens in the North of England. Let us know where you’ve been and what you’d recommend.