Temperatures to drop below -10C, army are on standby

Arctic conditions could bring temperatures as low as -11C as the big breeze hits the UK.

This week temperatures are likely to plummet well below freezing, with many parts of the country seeing weather colder than Iceland. Four inches of snow and ice are likely to cover parts of the country over the next week.

A high-pressure system hanging over Scandinavia pushing freezing winds across to the UK.

The weather warning has been upgraded by the Met Office to level three. Explaining that England is 100 per cent likely to experience ‘severe’ conditions over the next seven days.

The army are already on standby incase level four ‘a major cold weather incident’ sets in.

According to the Met Office temperatures will drop to as low as -6C (21.2F) tomorrow and on Thursday, when daytime maximums will be no more than 3C (37.4F).

This is likely to be the longest spell of cold weather this winter, experts say.

Clare Allen, forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: ‘We’ve got an easterly wind across the country bringing snow showers off the North Sea.

‘Most areas of the UK will see daytime maximum temperatures of 2C (35.6F) and 3C.

‘London will be a maximum of 4C (39.2F), so it’s going to be pretty cold.’

BBC Radio 5 Live reported that temperatures could fall as low as -11C.

Paul Mott, forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: ‘The nights will be really cold throughout the week and there will be the occasional snow shower over the eastern counties of England, eastern Scotland and even London.’

Police in the south have warned drivers in some parts of the country not to travel unless it is vital after snowfall over the higher areas of Exmoor and Dartmoor.

Mr Mott said: ‘There has been a sprinkling of snow overnight over parts of Wales, Devon, Somerset and Hampshire.

‘It has mainly been over hills – with accumulations of up to 5cm in some areas – but there have also been some falls on lower ground locally.

‘There will be some fairly wet snow falling over the hills of Gloucestershire, Somerset and south Wales this morning but it will struggle to settle so shouldn’t cause too many transport problems,’ Mott said.

 

Could you complete the ‘Tough Guy’ challenge?

This annual event is not for the faint-hearted. But if you want to prove your self as a ‘tough guy’ this is the event for you. 

It involves running through fire and ice pits, crawling under barbed wire, getting bruised and covered from head to toe in mud.

Called the toughest race in the world, the eight-mile course features obstacles that include the killing fields and the Vietcong Torture Chamber. 

The assault course in Perton, Staffordshire is run by ‘Mr Mouse’ a former Grenadier Guardsman Billy Wilson.

The first event was held in 1986 and claimed to be the most demanding one-day survival ordeal.

This weekends race, the 25th, attracted runners from 25 different countries around the world, with many competitors flying in from the US.

This weekend saw competitors haul crucifix’s, plunge themselves into a frozen lake, crawl through thick mud under barbed wire and get electrocuted.

Making the whole experience more difficult are the marshals dressed as commandos fire blank artillery shells and throw thunder flashes and smoke bombs at the competitors as they struggle through the course.

Up to a third of all competitors fail to make it to the finish line every year, 6000 people took part this weekend.

Zorb thrill ride lands on Guam

Described as a cross between a roller-coaster and a water slide, Zorb rides are intended to quicken the pulse and elicit thrills. The New Zealand company set up shop this month at Guam’s Leo Palace Resort. Zorb Guam has two unique tracks called the “Double Dippers” and offers both Zydro and Zorbit rides.

If you’ve ever wondered how a gerbil feels racing across his wheel, Zorb is for you. Riders are placed inside a giant 12-foot inflatable globe and rolled down a 700-foot hill on one of two specially-designed tracks. Thrill seekers may choose to add water and experience the Zydro Ride, slipping, sliding and spinning to the bottom of the hill. Up to three people (who really like each other) may ride together.

The dry jaunt, Zorbit, is known as the “astronaut-in-training” ride. Strapped securely into a safety harness, single riders are sent tumbling head-over-heels down the hill.

The Zorb family began in the tourism hub of Rotorua, New Zealand, with the opening of Zorb Rotorua in 1995. Zorb Rotorua is the company’s flagship site and hosts more than 50,000 riders a year.

Prices at Zorb Guam range from US$24-72, depending on the number of rides and riders. Riders must be 8 years or older. No reservations are required.

Zorb Guam in Manenggon Hills offers thrill seekers wet and dry rides in a giant inflatable globe.

Visit zorb.com for more information.

It’s Spring Break: take the kids to Italy

Make ancient Rome and Renaissance art come alive for your children with TourCrafters’ Spring Break package to Rome and Florence. It’s a better investment than a trip to Disney World.

The package – for 2 adults and 1 child up to 16 in a triple room – costs US$1,049 per adult and US$720 per child. For 2 adults and 2 children – in adjoining doubles in Rome and a large suite with queen and two singles in Florence – the price is US$1,209 per adult and US$830 per kid. These prices include air fare from New York, 4 nights’ accommodation at the 4-star Hotel Michelangelo in Rome, 4 nights at the 4-star Hotel Rivoli in Florence, 8 buffet breakfasts, arrival transfer, Hop On Hop Off tour of Rome, Eurostar train ticket, free ice cream for kids in each city, and a special kit, Florence guidebook, and restaurant discount for kids. Prices are valid from March 1 to 31, 2012.

This is the perfect opportunity to introduce the kids to the Italian lifestyle – not to mention authentic pizza, pasta, and gelato – as well as showing them the Roman Forum, Colosseum, catacombs, St. Peter’s, and other highlights of the Eternal City. They’ll enjoy the high-speed Eurostar train to Florence, and be amazed by Michelangelo’s David, the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s cafés, and maybe even a painting or two in the Uffizi.

All prices are per person, double occupancy, are subject to availability and do not include airport taxes of approximately US$100, fuel surcharges of approximately US$460, or city taxes that must be paid directly to the hotels in euros. Add-on air fares from other departure cities are: US$80 from Washington, DC, US$220 from Miami, US$150 from Chicago, and US$260 from Los Angeles.

Reservations must be paid for within 72 hours of booking. For additional information about this and other special Spring Break packages for couples, families, and friends to Italy, France, Spain, and Turkey, visit www.tourcrafters.com . For reservations, call 800-482-5995.

Visit Canada for the beautiful Northern Lights

In September of 2012 we will be making the most of what NASA has assured us will be the ‘zenith’ of the Northern Lights and travelling to Canada’s Northern extremities. After arriving into Yellowknife, we will be staying at the stunning Blachford Lake Lodge – not only granting us ideal conditions to observe the Aurora Borealis, but also allowing us to experience first hand the incredible landscapes and winter activities for which the area is famed.

Why Yellowknife?

Unlike the majority of Northern Light hotspots, Yellowknife sits right in the centre of the Aurora belt. This means that both the intensity and the frequency of the displays are as good (or better) than anywhere else in the world. Combined with the predictable and steady continental weather patterns, and it’s easy to see why Yellowknife and the surrounding area is considered by many to be the absolute best place in the world in terms of the chance to not only see the Aurora Borealis, but the also highest chance of seeing an impressive display.

 

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, the sky’s own light show, have always been the object of great wonder to mankind. Legend has it; the Northern Lights have been seen as everything from evil spirits to celestial wars with their marching armies. These beautiful displays have, over time, given rise to a wealth of works of art, myths, legends and stories.

The Northern Lights are caused by charged gas particles that flow away from the Sun as a “solar wind” and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. The charged particles “excite” gases in our atmosphere and make make them glow, just like gas in a fluorescent tube. The colours depend on the type of gas, a red or green glow is oxygen and the blue and purple colours are produced by nitrogen.  The solar wind reacts with the earth’s magnetic field in a doughnut shaped area around the North Pole (the auroral oval) and you need to be within sight of this area to see the lights.

The appearance of the aurora is closely connected to activity on the sun.  This activity usually changes over a cycle of around eleven years and after a quiet period of several years (a solar minimum) the sun has now become active again.  This activity is expected to increase for the next two to three years, before again declining.

Also known as the Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, the Aurora can appear abruptly, filling the sky at incredible speed with great arcs, as ghostly wisps in green, yellow, red and violet dance above the horizon, before disappearing again.

The Inuit of Greenland believed the lights came from the realm of the dead, caused by the spirits trying to contact their living relatives, and Norwegian sailors believe the displays were the souls of young maiden’s waving and dancing in the night’s sky. The Danes believed the Northern Lights to be swans that had strayed too far north and got stuck in the ice. As they struggled to break free, each stroke of their wings was reflected in the sky, forming the Northern Lights. Whatever explanation to this natural phenomenon, everyone who has seen the Northern Lights have been caught in awe by this magical display, a celestial show which truly needs to be seen to be believed.

Flight exclusive price for the Yellowknife Northern Lights holiday is £2195

Most Shocking Items Confiscated By Customs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Airport customs officials spend the majority of their time confiscating bottles of water, hair gel and other trivial items. But thanks to www.netvouchercodes.co.uk we can bring you the rundown of the strangest & most shocking items confiscated at airports around the world.

The list includes everything from dangerous reptiles to dead relatives – and you’ll be amazed what people are prepared to stuff into their undergarments.

Of course there is a more serious side to the job and there seems to be nothing smugglers won’t try in order to carry drugs onto a plane. It’s worth remembering though that not every vibrating suitcase contains a bomb…

Embed Me Here…

If you’d like to feature this infographic on your website or blog, just paste the following code into your site. Please credit netvouchercodes.co.uk.

<div align="center"><a href="http://www.netvouchercodes.co.uk/infographics/NVC-customs-travel-infographic.png" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.netvouchercodes.co.uk/infographics/NVC-customs-travel-infographic.png" alt="Illegal, dangerous & downright weird items confiscated by customs" width="525" height="3372" /></a><br/>Source: <a href="http://www.netvouchercodes.co.uk" target="_blank">NetVoucherCodes.co.uk</a></div>

Ice Lantern Festival in Swedish Lapland

Want to try something a bit different, head to Swedish Lapland for the Ice Lantern Festival.

The lights of thousands ice lanterns will soon shine through the Vuollerim area in Swedish Lapland. The village has put some extra effort in the annual Winter Market, with a full program for the week.

This year’s news:, house-jumping dinner in the locals’ homes and a lecture with Gert Palmcrantz, legendary sound producer who has worked with many celebrities in the jazz elite.

“Drum for your life” an exciting lecture with Gert Palmcrantz about the meaning of the drum through time. Listen to it on February 3rd.

Jokkmokk Market is over 400 years old, but there were markets in this area before it.

Ulf Westfal lectures about The Jokkmokk marke’ts background in “Half shady communication in totally shady winter darkness”.

Try something new – join in on the house-jumping dinner and experience the homely feeling in the village. Enjoy a cup of coffee and music crossword at the heritage centre. Local food traditions are highlighted with traditional Märgbens (marrowbones) dinner and the first barbeque of the year at Hotel Vuollerim.

As usual, visitors can experience the villagers’ creativity when the village lights up by thousands ice lanterns. Those who wish may try to make snow sculptures and ice lanterns together with the villagers. Lighting the lanterns, hot air balloons and speeches in Laestadius park on January the 31th at 6 pm.

The work pays off – international visitors, journalist and photographs are finding the village.  What tempt the to come are the genuine everyday experiences, the good atmosphere and “a world class hospitality” as visitors explain it. Warmly welcome! Lapland Vuollerim!

For the fully Market program and more info:

www.laplandvuollerim.se

Ocean Cruises After The Costa Concordia Disaster

The recent Costa Concordia disaster has raised questions about the safety of cruising and the soundness of the industry as a whole. Have cruise ships become too big? Are staff and passengers adequately informed about safety policies and procedures?

The 15 million passengers who enjoy Ocean cruises every year are testament to the fact that the popularity of cruising is ever on the up, and it seems important to note that the disaster is such big news because of its seemingly impossible nature.

In fact, there has been no such large scale disaster since the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, after which many of the contemporary maritime safety laws were drawn up. So how did things go so badly wrong, and what does it mean for the future of ocean cruising?

Cruise ship captains throughout the world have expressed outrage and disbelief at the behaviour of Captain Francesco Schettino, who is believed to have caused the Costa Concordia wreck by taking a detour off the ship’s authorized course and consequently running into a reef. He then abandoned the liner in the early stages of its wrecking, which goes against the codes of conduct for captains, who are duty bound to stay with their ship until the last passenger is accounted for.

Considered in this light, it seems that the disaster occurred due to an individual’s negligence rather than an issue with the industry. However, the owners of the ship, Carnival, also have some serious questions to answer. Many of the onboard staff were not fully trained in evacuation procedures and at least some of the passengers had not been made aware of them either.

With almost half of the cruise industry under its command, Carnival need to show that they are serious about tightening up their training policies and conducting regular drills to ensure that such a disaster can never be allowed to happen again. Stricter control of routes must also be imposed, as it is thought that Schettino had been given clearance to sail closer to the island of Giglio on previous occasions.

The one useful thing which will come out of this tragedy is that cruise liners will be forced to review their safety policies and procedures, and captains all over the world will be reminded of their duties and the magnitude of their leadership responsibilities. Drills and passenger safety directions will be strictly adhered to, as authorities will be keeping a closer eye on cruise companies and their practises.

It therefore seems likely that the cruise industry will be safer than ever from this point onwards. Indeed, it will need to be in order to regain public trust and continue to thrive. Despite the disaster, cruising remains extremely low risk, and there are a number of tour operators with pristine reputations.

The flawless practise of many captains should not be forgotten, nor the dedication of many cruise operators to provide outstanding service and therefore train their staff accordingly.

European Festivals are the way to go for Summer 2012

Along with Glastonbury and Oxygen, The Big Chill Festival today announced that it will not be running this summer and has now been added to the list of festivals which have been cancelled, to make way for the London Olympic Games.

If your a die-hard festival goer and are at a loss with what to do with yourself this summer, or perhaps you are just keen to escape the Olympic hype, then a festival on the continent could prove to be the ideal solution.

Europe has many fabulous options to offer, which incorporate guaranteed glorious sunshine with the most fresh and exciting beats. Swap your wellies for your bikini, your anorak for your sunnies and enjoy some of your favourite bands whilst catching some rays.

If your a bass fan, Outlook Festival in Croatia ticks all the boxes. Hosted in previously war torn but stunningly beautiful Croatia, Outlook is Europe’s Biggest Bass Music & Soundsystem Culture Festival, which happens every summer in the North of the country.

The weather is amazing ,it’s close to the shore- perfect for those late night dips, but more importantly the music is always fantastic, favouring underground acts over mainstream ticket-selling ones. Last years acts such as Benga,Trojan Sound System and The Bug went down a storm and the 2012 line-up which is due to be released on Sunday, surely will not disappoint.

If an indie vibe is more your thing, Benicassim Festival definitely is the one for you. Held in Spain, it’s a four day festival taking place on the East coast of Spain, between Valencia and Barcelona. The sunny festival has seen the likes of indie giants Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire and The Strokes perform, as well as some home-grown Spanish talent. So far the Stone Roses, Florence and the Machine and The Vaccines have been confirmed to play at the 2012 festival, but many more acts are still to be announced.

A less publicised but truly incredible festival is Open’er in Poland. This is the biggest Polish outdoor music festival which just keeps growing in size. A range of successful and eclectic acts have played at Open’er including Pulp, The Strokes, Foals, The Wombats, MIA, Coldplay, Simian Mobile Disco. This year French electro duo Justice are set to headline, along with The XX and zany Icelandic Bjork. The biggest seller for this fest is the price, with a four-day camping ticket priced just £90.

So this year, why not enjoy your summer retreat and your festival experience at the same time. A festival in guaranteed sun, is sure to be your best trip yet!

More information including prices for tickets and accommodation can be found at these websites;

www.outlookfestival.com

www.benicassimfestival.co.uk

www.efestivals.co.uk/festivals/opener/2012

Article by Lauren Probert

Six-mile walkway will give tourists bird’s eye view of Amazon rainforest

A British charity is building a pioneering science centre that will feature six miles of walkways – hoping to attract eco-tourists to the rainforest.

Tourists will be able to see spectacular views of the rainforest , and the science centre will be the research base for scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens. The centre will also provide jobs for Brazilian tribes, according to the Sunday Times.

The impressive walkway project will be located in Roraima, a remote destination northeast of Brazil. It will be created by the same designers who built the London Eye and Kew Gardens treetop walk.

The walkway will help scientists study the canopy, whilst visitors will be able to enjoy a unique view from high above the jungle floor.

The two-year project is being co-ordinated by the Amazon Charitable Trust.

Robert Pasley-Tyler, a managing partner of the Amazon Charitable Trust, said of the project: ‘It will employ the local river tribe, giving them a way of making a living without destroying the forest, and also boost awareness around the world.

‘Visitors will also get to see the nearby pink dolphins and the giant otters before spending a relaxing day on a riverside beach.’