UK HOLIDAYS: Natural sights most popular for holidaymakers in 2017

London – VIJAY SHAH and SWNS digital


A recent poll on holidays and days out choices among British tourists has found that trips to the country’s peaks are the most popular. The scenic Lake District area of north England topped the choices at number one attraction people most want to visit, overtaking the Peak District in the county of Derbyshire and Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon.

While mountains were the most popular options for communing with nature, the poll participants also voted for seaside locations like piers and beaches, as well as museums. The results were drawn from a list of fifty leading U.K. attractions devised by transport firm National Express. A thousand people were surveyed for the poll.

National Express’ managing director, Chris Hardy, said: “They say the best things in life are free and we hope our list inspires people to get out and explore somewhere new – without breaking the bank.

“It’s great to see that Brits appreciate the natural sights that the UK has to offer, and the sheer volume of beauty spots on this list goes to show that you’re never far from something stunning to see on a day out.”

Despite being the epicentre of British tourism for both national and international visitors, London made a poor showing in the results, with only one of the capital’s prime attractions, the Natural History Museum, making the top ten locations for days out. The museum only made it to ninth place. Twenty-three other museums across the country also featured, including smaller, region-specific museums such as the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa, central England. A few cathedrals also made the list.


“Natural Views and Scenery Dominate in List of UK’s Favourite Days Out” – SWNS digital/72Point (23 April 2017)


MOTHER’S DAY: A son’s loving poem

By Vijay Shah (with contribution from Arjun Shah)

Today is the Sunday 10th March 2013, and here in the United Kingdom, it is designated on the calendar as Mother’s Day. It’s a once-a-year chance for sons and daughters to show extra appreciation and love for that special woman who helped bring them into the world, who clothed them, fed them and soothed them when they fell and gashed their knees in the garden. A mother is everything. She is an alarm clock, a best friend, a guide, a teacher, a helper, a shoulder to cry on, a foundation of support and much, much more. Being a mother is full-time work, with few holidays and round-the-clock working hours. She does not get paid any salary for what she does, but that does not make what Mum does any less important. Her salary is not cold hard cash, it is the love of her children – knowing that they will always be there for her. Watching her offspring grow from tiny newborns, to toddlers and teenagers…and beyond. She loves her kids with all her heart and cries deeply when they fly the nest. As we have all observed, the maternal (and paternal) bond is one of the strongest bonds in human society. It is tougher than titanium and more precious than diamonds. Mother’s Day, as much as it has been heavily commercialised these days, is still a celebration of that profound and unbreakable bond with the special lady who held you warm and protected in her womb for nine months.

A mother holds up her child.
A mother holds up her child. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Mum is very special to me. Not just because she clothed and fed me and my siblings, but as she is the bedrock of our family. While things have not always been perfect between us and our Mother, with there having been arguments and falling-outs, she still is the epicentre of our family. She is never afraid to have a laugh and joke with us, just like a best friend…just as she can shout at us and tell us off if we step out of line. She tries her best to guide us and give us advice in any problems or new situations we pass through. She comes out with the corniest jokes and even sound effects and always leaves us in stitches!!. She is accepting and understanding, even if sometimes it takes a while. She is always ready to listen and often narrates us stories from her life. Mum is so hardworking, always up to her arms in housework and responsibilities, yet hardly ever complains. Even when we try to pitch in, she will usually refuse. That is how tough and solid she is. A toughness that feels me with awe and humility.

Her cooking is legendary. Even now, I cannot forget the tasty and made-with-love dinners she always prepared for us. Her signature dishes are always varied. Dishes like her delicious chicken and spinach curry, chilli con carne, kingfish with rice, beans and scrambled eggs, among many others. She has such a talent with food and possesses a global repertoire of recipes, each one made to that “only the best for my family” standard of care. Just thinking about her cooking makes my mouth water.

She had a very difficult life, as did we. Yet despite all the problems we faced in our lives as a family, she did her best to be a Mother, and I salute and give her my utmost respect for all that she did for us. She always came to our school Parents’ Evenings and took us out food shopping, even when money was tight. She never discouraged us from making our own lives and always offered her support and love. She is an irreplaceable mother, and I owe a lot of myself to her. I have her solid determination to take life by the horns, no matter what it throws at me. I have her stubbornness and her drive to get the job done. I get my internal strength and a lot of my own character from Mum as well. My existence itself is because of her.

Thank you Mum…I wish you a wonderful Mother’s Day and no matter where I am and what I do, I will never forget you and what you have done for us.

Mothers Day Gift.
Mothers Day Gift. (Photo credit: pixiepic’s)

In marking Mother’s Day, I thought of sharing this poem with you. It comes from a card that my youngest brother Arjun made for our Mum at school I think…..

” Today’s your day,

So listen up!

Just sit right there

And don’t get up!

You’ve earned the right

To stay in bed,

And not get


Or comb your head!

Just take it easy,

Don’t feel bad.

If you need anything

Just call “DAD” !!!”

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PURE EVASION: A posh Tunisian travel agency; a myriad of serene holiday snaps

By Vijay Shah

As any business nowadays knows, it is common sense to have a Facebook presence. With its 800 million active users, according to its own published figures, Facebook has a wide-ranging and international consumer market that even the smallest business could potentially benefit from. This is also true for any organisation that needs an audience; from national governments to charity appeals. Even this little blog, among the millions of blogs out there (30 million estimated using the WordPress platform alone) has its own Facebook page (it’s here!). You do not have to be earning a ‘pretty penny’ to make your presence felt on Facebook. Essentially you have hundreds of thousands of eyes and screens that you can use to showcase your or your organisation’s work, activities, and ideas.

This article is not an attempt to give a crash course in setting up your own business or any tips-and-cheats guide to winning a legion of social networks fans. I do not have yet that much expertise in the field, unfortunately, but it does show how if you make your Facebook page visually appealing, it can draw people in like moths to a light bulb, but even those photos can take a life of themselves which can transcend their humble placement in a webpage on somewhere like Facebook or MySpace.

This morning I stumbled across a company through a page I follow on Facebook called “Chicha”, a French-language setup dedicated to promoting the art of water-pipe smoking, otherwise known as shisha or hookah. By the way, ‘chicha’ is simply the French rendering of the Arabic word ‘shisha’ – the ‘ch’ digraph is pronounced /sh/ in French. “Chicha” normally is adept at posting close-up shots of various hookah pipes or people using them, so it is basically your typical hobby page.

Today was a small unexpected surprise though, instead of the usual fare of shelves of mini hookahs or double-piped Khalil Maamoon monsters, I instead stumbled this picture of a brightly coloured city scape which you can see below:

The beautiful image of Rio that caught my eye (c) Original copyright,
The beautiful image of Rio that caught my eye (c) Original copyright,

At first appearances for me, bearing in mind that I had just been kitchen cleaning and was frankly relieved/tired that it was all over, was that this was the skyline of  Hong Kong’s city centre. I guess it would have been easy to see why, as the urban areas of this financial powerhouse and Special Administrative Region in China are packed to the brim with neon lights, futuristic buildings and a hectic nightlife. On closer inspection, I soon realised this to be the fun-in-the-sun city that is Rio de Janeiro. While this picture could easily be of any major coastal city, the clue is in the Sugar Loaf mountain in the top half of the cityscape.

I love this picture. The colour contrast is pleasing to the eye especially with the purple of the dusky sky, layered above the earthy browns and greens of the hills and islands, finished off with the dotted green-yellow lights of the city itself. Urban and man-made, and the glory of nature, fitting together without overwhelming each other…but it can overwhelm the viewer. Looking at this photo, I feel relaxed yet breathless, in absorbing the buzzing activity and sheer scale of this tropical neighbourhood – the complexity of Rio’s man-made environment, set against the tranquility and omnipresence of the city’s surrounding natural features.
Pure Evasion is a private travel club and holiday company based in Sousse, Tunisia. The club specialises in offering travel packages to exotic tropical locations and caters mainly to Francophone tourists. They cover all of the main tourist hotspots in Asia, Africa principally, through exclusive and tailor-made tours. Pure Evasion does not promote its business too heavily on either its homepage or its Facebook page. It seems like a small agency, which may be a bit worrying for those used to package holidays but unfortunately I cannot say if Pure Evasion is just an unreliable one-man/woman operation or if its assumed size offers holidaymakers a personalised experience where one or two specialists cater to your every whim.

There is not much in the way of a company ‘about’ description and the destinations are described as like mini-entries for a Wiki site (but with a lot of useful facts and figures for would-be visitors), but Pure Evasion do not seem overtly concerned about written details and terms & conditions. They let their pictures do the talking. I have selected some of my favourites from the Pure Evasion Facebook entry…have a look and let your worries evaporate, your mind wander, and let dreams evade reality.







All pictures copyright of the Pure Evasion Facebook page.


B23, Cyber Parc Hammam, Sousse 4011- Tunisia

Tel: +216 98 255 619

See the Facebook page for Pure Evasion @

SOURCES: Facebook Newsroom, WordPress, ‘Chicha’ (page on Facebook), Pure Evasion.