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Spend some Time Out in Britain
Time Out: 1000 Things to Do in Britain
Member Name: ryeb
Time Out: 1000 Things to Do in Britain
Advantages: Lots of imaginative ideas for days out.
Disadvantages: Many of the suggestions are likely to be out of day trip distance.
Last year was an unusual year for me as, for work and personal reasons, I spent time in everywhere from Yorkshire to Devon, via the home counties and East Anglia. Halfway through the year my parents bought me the Time Out book "1000 things to do in Britain" so that I would at least have plenty to do with my time off! I have used the Time Out website many times to find out about entertainment events around London so I was looking forward to seeing what they would suggest.
WHAT CONNECTION DOES THE BOOK HAVE TO TIME OUT?
The listings are based on the work of Time Out magazine, which provides entertainment listings and reviews. The first thing I noticed when I flicked through the book was that there was a number of related adverts throughout. This did make me wonder how independent the recommendations included would be. However when I read the introduction, I saw that Time Out say that no payments influenced the choice of venues etc listed. They say that the list of things to do was finalised before advertising space was sold. I think this is fair enough as the general text outweigh the adverts in quantity and it easy to see which is which. If you disagree with any of the suggestions or think something great has been left out, you can also email the authors using the details in the front of the book.
RANGE OF ACTIVITIES INCLUDED.
The 1000 suggestions are not organised in any particular order, in that suggestion number 1 is no more recommended than suggestion number 1000. I don't mind this approach as it would no doubt be difficult to narrow down just one choice for the top spot, especially as everyone has different tastes. Many of the activities strike me more as suggestions of places to visit such as castles, national parks, shops and restaurants. Some are predictable such as the idea of visiting a stately home, but others are more unexpected - butchery lessons, bog snorkeling and indoor skydiving for example. I was really impressed with the range of ideas in general. Reading the book has given me a lot of new entries in my "must see/visit/do" list. The trouble is, even when though I was traveling around the country, I found that the things I most wanted to do or see were not in the same place that I was. As the book is intended to be national in scope that is no doubt inevitable. Nevertheless, if I had not been travelling, and I had wanted to find new things to do within day trip distance of my home, I would not have found much. All the suggestions were places that I already knew of and had visited although it did remind me of places that I had not been to for some time such as the Oxford Botanic Garden. I think this national approach would be frustrating for many people, especially if you live in one of the areas that is less well covered. There is only one suggestion for Gwent for example, compared to 14 for the city of Bristol. I decided the best way for me to use the book was to use the suggestions as a starting point for an internet search. If I read about a lovely sounding national trail walk in Scotland, I decided to google national trails where I was going to be, and this worked well.
One place that I enjoyed visiting solely on the suggestion of this guide was the seaside town of Leigh-On-Sea in Essex. The main part of the books suggestion was to eat sea food there such as local cockles, which as a vegetarian was not something I would do. However, having a soft spot for seaside places in general, I enjoyed the little beach and the attractive town itself. I wish there had been more similiar places suggested in the areas I would have been able to visit!
IS THE BOOK EASY TO USE?
Each entry comprises a paragraph or two, although there a few that are treated to more in depth coverage. The book doesn't include precise opening times or admission prices in the main, so I couldn't use it as my only source of information. Even if they had always been included, I would have checked them again with the venue as this sort of information changes quickly. You are given the venues telephone number, address and website where possible. I think it would be helpful to perhaps include a few symbols next to the main entry to indicate places that had good disabled access or easy public transport links, to make it easier to shortlist places to research in the first place.
There is an index that helps to narrow the entries by type of activity or interest e.g children's attractions or ecology. There is also an index of ideas by location, which is well worth looking at before you buy the book for the reasons I mentioned above. I mainly enjoyed just browsing through and picking an entry at random as there are plenty of quirky illustrations and photos to pique your interest.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THE BOOK?
I am not sure that I would, despite the fact there are plenty of good and imaginative ideas. I think if you have a realistic chance of visiting many places in Britain before the book goes out of date, then it would be an interesting read. If you want to mainly use the book to find places near to you, it may not provide enough suggestions within reach. As a general guide to the variety of things to do in Britain, it is certainly an eye opener!
ISBN 978 184 670 2235
ISBN 10= 1846702232
This is the second revised edition, paperback, published by Time Out/Ebury Publishing.
Cover price £12.99. Amazon price from £5.85 for a new copy at time of writing.
[This review has also appeared on Ciao under my user name.]
Summary: A good source of inspiration but be prepared to travel.
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