Jubilee celebrations draw international visitors to the UK Breaking Travel News
UK train passengers are set to face major disruption to their journeys this summer after workers voted in favour of strike action at 13 train operating companies.
The RMT union has announced that 89 per cent of its 40,000 members voted to take industrial action this summer in a dispute over pay, jobs and safety. The turnout for the ballot was 71 per cent.
Strike action could start as soon as the middle of June, although all sides have called for last-minute negotiations to try to find a settlement and prevent a walkout which could cripple the UK’s rail network.
Workers have voted for strike action at the following 13 rail operators: Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c, Great Western Railway, Northern Trains, South Eastern, South Western Railway, Transpennine Express, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains.
Employees at one operator, GTR, which runs Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express, voted to take action “short of strike”.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Today’s overwhelming endorsement by railway workers is a vindication of the union’s approach and sends a clear message that members want a decent pay rise, job security and no compulsory redundancies.
“Our NEC (national executive committee) will now meet to discuss a timetable for strike action from mid-June, but we sincerely hope ministers will encourage the employers to return to the negotiating table and hammer out a reasonable settlement with the RMT.”
In a separate dispute, the RMT is also planning to ballot ScotRail workers on strike action after the union called the train operator’s pay offer of 2.2 per cent “derisory”.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents the train operating companies, called for the RMT to “talk to us” to avoid strikes going ahead.
RDG chair Steve Montgomery added: “Nobody wins when industrial action threatens to disrupt the lives and livelihoods of passengers and businesses and puts the industry’s recovery at risk.
“We urge the RMT leadership to behave responsibly, and to talk to us to find a way to avoid damaging industrial action and secure the long-term future of the industry.”
Network Rail, which manages the UK’s rail infrastructure, said that any strike action would be “disastrous for our industry’s recovery”.
Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, added: “The RMT has jumped the gun here as everyone loses if there’s a strike. We know our people are concerned about job security and pay.
“As a public body we have been working on offering a pay increase that taxpayers can afford, and we continue to discuss this with our trade unions.
“We urge the RMT to sit down with us and continue to talk, not walk, so that we can find a compromise and avoid damaging industrial action.
“Any industrial action now would be disastrous for our industry’s recovery and would hugely impact vital supply and freight chains. It would also serve to undermine our collective ability to afford the pay increases we want to make.”
The Channel island of Jersey has been boosted by the launch of three new routes from the UK mainland.
Regional carrier Eastern Airways has launched summer season flights from both Humberside and Teesside airports to Jersey, which specialises in industries such as finance and legal services. The Saturday services will operate until 1 October.
Eastern Airways has already launched a new route between Humberside airport and Cornwall Airport Newquay this summer.
Meanwhile Jersey-based airline Blue Islands has just started a new route between the island and Norwich, which will operate twice per week on Tuesday and Saturday up to 24 September.
The Viking Coastal Trail, Kent
Stretching for 51km around the Isle of Thanet, the Viking Trail can be split into shorter, family-friendly day rides, while the entire route makes a great two-day trip, combining long stretches of coast and vibrant seaside towns including Margate and Ramsgate with quiet inland villages, 7th-century Minster Abbey and the spectacular chalk stacks at Botany Bay, this is a varied ride. Start in Margate and stop for a dip in Minnis Bay, before turning inland and spending the night at the Corner House in Minster. On day two, the Kent coast rolls out from Ramsgate around the easternmost tip, until you arrive back in Margate.
Doubles from £110 B&B; cornerhouserestaurants.co.uk;explorekent.org
Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, south Wales
Flat, tranquil and gloriously pretty, the towpath of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal offers a glimpse of the region’s industrial history alongside plenty of natural wildlife: kingfishers and red kites are often spotted above the water. The stretch from Llangynidr to Brecon is ideal for a day ride (28km) with a night in Brecon before returning the following day. There are some lovely canalside pubs en route, including the Royal Oak at Pencelli and the Star Inn at Talybont-on-Usk. Stay at the Grange Guest House, a chic B&B in the heart of Brecon.
Doubles from £75 B&B; thegrange-brecon.co.uk; breconbeacons.org
Tarka Trail, Devon
Stretching for 180km, the Tarka Trail is a great long-distance route, but the section between Braunton and Meeth (49km) is ideal for a relaxed weekend as this whole part of the trail is traffic-free. The route begins with a lovely waterside ride around the mouth of the Taw River into Barnstaple and then runs through rolling Devonshire countryside on peaceful bridleways. To shorten the route a little, stop for the night at Great Torrington, where Smytham Manor offers glamping pods and lodges in a bucolic country park that lies directly on the Tarka Trail.
Pods from £35 per night; smytham.co.uk; tarkatrail.org.uk
Clay Trails, St Austell, Cornwall
An ideal choice for younger families and beginner cyclists, or those who want to combine shorter rides with other activities, the Clay Trails take their name from the region’s history as a clay-mining area. The routes range from challenging hill rides with lovely views of St Austell Bay to gentle, flat trails that can easily be completed in under an hour. Three of the eight routes are circular, with routes through woods and heathland, as well as a 7km trail to the Eden Project. The Cornwall is an excellent family option just outside St Austell, with self-catering lodges alongside classic hotel rooms and a full-service spa.
Doubles from £103.50 B&B; thecornwall.com; claytrails.co.uk
Family Cycle Trail, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
A great family activity, this 15km loop through the forest is accessible for all ages and levels of cyclists, with a combination of former railway tracks, bridleways and paths that connect some of the forest’s highlights, including the Sculpture Trail at Beechenhurst and the Mallards Pike Lake. The Forest of Dean Cycle Centre at Cannop makes an excellent start/finish point, with bikes to hire, maps and refreshments. Stay at the Speech House, a classic coaching inn in the nearby village of Coleford.
Doubles from £76 B&B; thespeechhouse.co.uk; visitdeanwye.co.uk
Burford East Circular, Cotswolds
This beautiful 52km trail through the Windrush Valley is a great way to see some of the east Cotswolds’ biggest sights, without needing to take the car. Beginning and ending in picturesque Burford, the trail links Blenheim Palace, Minster Lovell Hall and Eynsham Park, along with unspoilt hamlets and villages, with classic Cotstwold-stone houses. The village of Charlbury is an ideal halfway point. Soothe saddle-weary limbs with a hearty dinner and cosy night at the charming Bull Inn, before completing the circuit the following day.
Doubles from £102 B&B; cotswolds.com
The Settle Circular, Yorkshire Dales
This picturesque 28km trail begins and ends in Settle, taking in the southwestern edge of the Yorkshire Dales national park, with contrasting views of Ribblesdale, the Forest of Bowland and the hills of the Western Dales. All the hard work is at the beginning, with a steady climb up to Swarth Moor, before an easy downhill stretch to the village of Clapham. Here, the New Inn makes a cosy place to stay, with slap-up breakfasts to fuel the second half of the ride through the village of Eldroth and over Penny Bridge into Settle.
Doubles from £110 B&B; newinnclapham.com; cyclethedales.org.uk
Cromer Loop, Norfolk
This 38km route offers a lovely combination of a coastal start and finish, with time gliding along Norfolk’s quiet country lanes, discovering historic churches and quaint, unspoilt villages. The ride also takes in the country estates of Mannington – renowned for its beautiful gardens – and Wolterton; the Saracen’s Head at Wolterton is a great place to break the journey, with chic rooms and an upmarket restaurant. On the second day, drift slowly back to Cromer for a dip in the sea and a crab sandwich as a post-ride reward.
Doubles from £110 B&B; saracenshead-norfolk.co.uk; norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk
Red Squirrel Trail, Isle of Wight
Named after one of the island’s most iconic wildlife species, this 51km trail is ideal for families, with most of the route traffic-free and pleasingly flat. Beginning in East Cowes, the route follows the old railway line to Newport, runs alongside the River Medina and then joins a second railway line down to Sandown and Shanklin on the east coast. Stay the night at the Clifton, a friendly small hotel perched on Shanklin’s picturesque clifftop with wonderful sea views, before the next day’s ride through Godshill and Wroxall and back to Cowes.
Doubles from £99 B&B; thecliftonshanklin.co.uk, redsquirreltrail.org.uk
The Four Abbeys Route, Scottish Borders
A challenging ride with a couple of taxing ascents, this 90km route links four of Scotland’s most beautiful abbeys: Melrose – famous as the burial site of Robert the Bruce’s heart – Kelso, Dryburgh and the spectacular 12th-century Jedburgh, still complete, apart from its roof. There are two quite long and tough ascents, with the Eldon Hills rising up around the trail, and the Teviot and Tweed rivers glittering in the distance. Plan the route to allow a night’s stop in Kelso, where the Queen’s Head Inn offers a comfortable place to stay and classic pub food.
Doubles from £100 B&B; queensheadhotelkelso.com.
Brits have a bit of a reputation when it comes to tipping. We’re seen as bad tippers by other countries — we don’t like to tip, we might even be mean. But the truth is, we’re just not accustomed to tipping very often as there are no real “rules” on tipping here. If it’s your first visit to the UK, tipping can seem like a minefield. When do you tip? Who do you tip? How much do you tip? There’s nothing more awkward than not understanding the etiquette of the country you’re staying in.
When friends of mine came from overseas, I received some frantic texts from them in a restaurant, asking me if the waitress would be offended if they gave the tip directly to her. My friend wondered if it would be perceived badly and that it might seem as if she was suggesting the waitress was poor. As I explained to my friend at the time, tipping in the UK is a pretty casual affair, and you’re unlikely to offend anyone no matter what you do. There isn’t really a tipping “culture” here in the UK and it’s done more on a “how you feel about the service” basis.
That said, it is confusing for anyone visiting, so to help you get to grips with the when and the who and the how much, here’s a guide to tipping etiquette in four of the most common tipping situations while you’re in the UK.
Tipping is very common after you’ve finished a meal in a restaurant here in the UK. When you receive your bill at the end of the evening, take a little look at it. If there is a service charge on the end of the bill, that’s your tip included and there’s no need to give anything more.
Of course, if you feel you received incredible service and you want to leave more, you can. Note, this isn’t standard practice here in the UK. Some restaurants include a tip on the bill and some don’t. Most don’t because diners don’t like it. British people tend to object to being told how much they should leave as a tip or if they should leave anything at all.
If there is a service charge included and you aren’t happy with the service you received, you can ask for it to be removed, and plenty of locals do just do that. If there’s no service charge on the bill, you can leave a tip, but there really isn’t any obligation to do this at all. Most diners, if they are happy with the service, leave a small tip on the table as they leave. This should be around 10 percent of your bill, but again, it’s up to you how much you leave.
As I told my friend who was panicking over what to do at the end of their meal, you wouldn’t normally give it to the waitress, but you’d leave it on the table as you depart. In most restaurants, the amount you leave won’t go directly to that particular waitress anyway, as all waiting staff are required to turn over their tips to be divided equally. This is a whole other debate. Many people think this is unfair, while others think it’s completely fair.
If you’re buying food from a takeaway, there is sometimes a tips jar on the counter, and again whether you leave a tip or not is entirely at your own discretion. I don’t think I’ve ever left a tip at a takeaway or seen anyone else do so. If you’re drinking and eating in a bar, you aren’t expected to tip the barman at all. If you really want to you can tell him to “keep the change” when you pay with a note that’s above the price of your bill, or you can say “and one for yourself” when you order your drink, which implies you are buying them a drink in appreciation. This is a bit of a throw-back as barmen these days won’t be drinking while they’re working, but it is a nice way of saying thank you for the service. You certainly wouldn’t tip the barman every time he pours you a drink. It’s worth noting here that in most bars in the UK you pay as you go rather than opening a tab. You can ask to open a tab and then pay the bill at the end and leave a tip if you like, but most people pay the barman each time they order a drink, and tipping at a bar is almost unheard of in the UK.
With the rise of app-based taxi services like Uber, it’s much easier to tip your driver if you’re happy with the service. You simply do it through the app, and this is very common in the UK. If you’re happy with your driver you can leave a tip and a good review on the app, and drivers are as happy with a 5-star review as they are with the tip.
But if you’re getting a black cab or other private taxi hire, it’s a bit more awkward. If the bill is pre-calculated, it’s difficult to tip and most people wouldn’t hand a tip to the driver in this case. If you’re paying cash a nice way to do it is to round up the fare to the nearest pound or simply say “keep the change” if you’re giving them a note. Again, you’re not at all expected to tip the taxi driver, it is an entirely personal choice, and your driver won’t be offended if you don’t tip.
Tipping hotel workers is probably the most confusing and complicated of all areas of tipping in the UK. As with everything else, you don’t have to tip at all and no one expects you to. The hotel worker who gets tipped most commonly is the bellboy, or bellhop. This is the person who helps bring your luggage to your room, and it’s perfectly normal to hand them a couple of pounds for doing this.
Housekeepers don’t usually receive tips, but some people like to leave them little gifts in the room when they’ve checked out. You can also leave a few pounds in the room when you’ve gone, as a nice surprise for your housekeeper. It all depends how high-end your hotel is, but if you do have a doorman you can hand him 2 to 5 pounds as you leave if you like.
Again, this is in no way expected, and most British people wouldn’t do this. It isn’t normal to tip when you order room service, or to tip at the hotel bar or restaurant, especially if everything is going on your hotel bill.
If you’re on a bus tour, you’ll usually find the driver has a cup or something like that where you can leave a tip at the end of the tour. On rare occasions, your tour guide will walk up the bus asking for tips for the driver, but this is unusual. If you’re on a walking tour, it’s not common to tip your guide. I think this mostly comes down to that British awkwardness. We don’t really like to hand over money in this way, directly to a service worker, and we’d rather leave it in a jar, or even better, leave it somewhere to be found when we’ve gone! If you don’t have any such British awkwardness you can, of course, tip when and as you like, and your tour guide will be very appreciative.
Other Places You Might Tip
One of the most common service workers to receive tips is your hairstylist at the salon. It’s a strange anomaly, but we seem to be perfectly comfortable with this one. Hairstylists are regularly tipped at 10 percent of the bill, and this also extends to other salon workers sometimes, — and even retail workers now and then.
This all comes down to our desire to give a little extra when we’re very happy with the service we received and nothing at all when we’re not! Because of this, no one expects you to tip and if you do, they’ll see it as an appreciation of the service you gave them. But if don’t tip they won’t assume they did badly, as most UK customers don’t tip at all. Although waiting staff really do appreciate the tips to put a little extra on their wages, they don’t rely on tips to make enough money, and if you say a genuine “thank you” and tell them how great it was and that you’ll be back, that’s actually just as meaningful to them as a tip. Repeat business is very important in the UK and building customer loyalty comes above tipping for most businesses.
So, by all means, tip if you feel the service was great and don’t if you don’t want to. No one will be offended no matter what you do. There’s no right or wrong way.
LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to pay respects following the death of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, his office said on Saturday.
Johnson, who said he was deeply saddened to learn of the death, will also use the visit “to reinforce the close bond between the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates which will continue under the Presidency of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,” the statement said.
Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.
UK organisations are leading the way in Europe when it comes to making sustainable travel a priority, according to a new survey from SAP Concur.
The study of 700 travel buyers and managers across Europe found that 99 per cent considered sustainability as part of their travel policy.
Furthermore, almost half of UK businesses (47 per cent) said their travel policy was already sustainable, compared with 35 per cent of French firms, 13 per cent of organisations in Spain and 18 per cent of German companies.
A higher proportion of British firms are also working hard to improve their employees’ understanding of sustainable business travel. This is being done through a range of initiatives, such as formal training (64 per cent), internal communications campaigns (70 per cent) and regular communication with travellers during trips (68 per cent).
Ami Taylor, senior director, global product strategy at SAP Concur, added: “As demand for higher levels of sustainability grows, questions about sustainability policies will be raised more strongly, more often and by more parties, from management and employees to supply-chain partners and external stakeholders, as well as the employees themselves.
“It is therefore positive to see that so many UK businesses have already made great strides in their quest for green business travel programmes.
“Moving forward, businesses should focus on continuing their ongoing programme to support their travelling employees in making greener choices – supported by the right tools to help them make informed decisions.”
The UK government has promised to introduce new legislation to “modernise” the country’s rail network and “improve reliability” for passengers.
A transport bill was one of nearly 40 pieces of legislation to be announced during the Queen’s Speech in Westminster on Tuesday (10 May) as the UK parliament opened for a new session.
The bill will also see the establishment of the state-run Great British Railways agency which will regulate train services across the country following the government’s decision to end the long-running franchise system in 2020.
Andy Bagnall, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, said: “This is an important milestone towards delivering a better railway for customers and the nation as a whole, with Great British Railways having the potential to join up the railway.
“To make these reforms a success, this needs to be balanced with giving private operators the contractual freedom to focus relentlessly on customers, and boldly innovate to meet their needs.”
Bagnall added that private train operators would continue to work with government and the Great British Railways’ transition team to “ensure these reforms meet the ambition and potential of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail”.
Norman Baker, from Campaign for Better Transport, also welcomed the planned bill to improve the UK’s rail network but criticised the lack of any proposed new law to improve the ticketing system.
“We are disappointed there is no mention of legislation to address the failing ticketing system,” added Baker. “Without wholesale reform of the entire ticketing system we cannot hope to have the better and more reliable service passengers have been promised.”
Meanwhile, Clive Wratten, CEO of the Business Travel Association, called for the government to deal with the country’s transport infrastructure “as a whole”.
“Whilst the BTA welcomes the government’s commitment to the rail industry and levelling-up, this needs to be dealt with as a whole,” he urged.
“Airports need better connectivity – global Britain must be part of domestic levelling-up. Our current infrastructure does not deliver on our post-Brexit place in the world.”
Miles Routledge, who uses the Twitter handle Lord Miles Routledge, has built a reputation as being a “danger tourist” having visited multiple hotspots in the past – including Kabul during the Taliban takeover. His latest plan will be to visit a renowned island in the Indian Ocean known for a hostile indigenous tribe who have had very little contact with the outside world and remain one of the world’s last uncontacted peoples in the world.
Devout Christian Mr Routledge is hoping to visit North Sentinel Island located in the Bay of Bengal.
Previous attempts by others visiting the protected island, which belongs to India, have resulted in death at the hands of the locals.
In 1867, British explorers had to fend off attacks from the natives as they awaiting rescue following their vessel becoming shipwrecked off the coast of the island.
In 2006, two fishermen were killed by the natives known as the Sentinelese.
And American Christian missionary John Allen Chau met the same fate when he attempted to spread the word of God on the island in 2018.
Contact with the islanders is not only discouraged due to their extremely violent nature but to protect the group from the outside world, in particular from disease and viruses other nations have long become immune to.
Mr Routledge has devised a plan to document the group without putting himself or the tribe at risk
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Buy 2 small boats and go to North Sentinel Island.
“One crew sets off fireworks to distract the primitives.
“One crew in decontaminated suits sets up Starlink, cameras and a solar panel all hidden.
“Twitch of uncontacted tribes, $$$ and help science.
“Tell me why this wouldn’t work.”
Mr Routledge claims this would allow for a Twitch stream to be set up and monitor the mostly undocumented tribe.
He says this will help science and make money along the way.
Adding another plan to his ambitious adventure, he wrote: “Or like, go with a drone disguised as a big bird, film content, boom exclusive footage of non-contacted tribe that’s near priceless.”
Warning of the dangers ahead, one Twitter user replied to Mr Routledge by saying: “Go in a suit of armour.
“What are they going to do against a knight with their little sticks?”
Mr Routledge has conducted other dangerous trips in his travels.
In April, he was seen to have “tea with the Taliban” during a visit to Afghanistan.
Tweeted about the encounter, he wrote: “Tea with the Taliban.
I’m in Afghanistan, walked into Taliban residency by accident and after talking they gave me food, tea and even offered for me to stay the night.
“They are so kind!”
Should Miles Routledge visit the island? Will the visit pose a danger to the islanders in light of the recent global virus? Let us know your thoughts by CLICKING HERE and joining the debate in our comments section below – Every Voice Matters!
He has also travelled to Ukraine during the Russian invasion, and spent time in Kazakhstan during riots.
In reference to his Sentinel Island idea, he later claimed that he wasn’t being completely serious.
He tweeted: “I mentioned this before but I’ve had a lot of new followers then, it’s always good to get further perspective on s**t posts that may turn into something real one day.”
Mr Routledge has been contacted by Express.co.uk for comment.
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