It’s getting increasingly unlikely that many of us will be able to travel abroad on holiday this year, as restrictions are still in place in most of our favourite holiday destinations.
But let’s not worry about that, because the UK has some of the most exciting and beautiful destinations on our very doorstep, and with the weather set to improve over the next couple of months, this year will be the year of the STAYCATION!
In response, we’ve all been looking at the best ways to get around the UK. With trains being SO expensive, a few creative companies, like Virtuo, have turned to making hiring a car 10x easier than ever before.
Perfect for those hard-to-reach destinations where trains are few and far between or the ideal choice when looking at a road trip with your mates, Virtuo has made hiring a car as easy as possible, with no queues, no counters, no paperwork – everything is done through their app!
All you need to do is download the Virtuo App, get your licence validated and you can be sat behind the wheel of a Mercedes A-Class in minutes.
With rentals available from just 1 day, right up to 90 days – we thought we should look at some of the best places the UK can offer…
Less Than 1 Hour Drive…
Chester not only looks absolutely stunning, with its huge Tudor-style half-timber buildings stretching down the main streets, but the city also packs a serious number of things to do within its modest size.
Famed throughout the North West for the quality of its shopping, as well as the main high street at Eastgate there’s also Cheshire Oaks where you can bag yourself some serious bargains. Just down the road from the Outlet Village is Chester Zoo – one of the UK’s best tourist destinations and a fantastic day out for all the family.
Located right on the edge of the Peak District, Buxton is the perfect distance away from Manchester, and the drive through the peaks is gorgeous. The town centre is packed full of stunning architecture, great bars and restaurants and, not forgetting; the world famous Opera House.
Just outside town you’ll find the stunning Pooles Cavern, where you can delve deep into the vast network of caves under the peaks, and just next to it – Go Ape! where you can dangle 100ft up in the air and scream.
Just a short drive outside of Manchester you’ll find the Pennines, and its many quaint, beautiful villages and towns. Head down to Saddleworth where you can explore Dovestones Reservoir, before taking walks through the rolling hills and gentle moors.
There’s Uppermill, Delph, Denshaw and Dobcross, all within a few minutes’ drive of each other, each one offering up an impressive choice of excellent shops, bars and some world-class restaurants. Don’t forget to visit The Old Bell Inn in Delph and its collection of over 1,300 gins!
Jodrell Bank & Tatton Park
Once the largest radio telescope in the world, Jodrell Bank is a fantastic day out for the family, with something for everyone underneath the imposing 90m high Lovell Telescope.
This year sees them open The First Light Pavilion, a stunning new £21m exhibition space and gallery in the gardens. Speaking of gardens, just a short drive away is the HUGE Tatton Park, 2000 acres of lush gardens, as well as a farm, a deer park and the medieval manor house – Tatton Hall.
Us Mancunians may have a bit of a rivalry going on with the people of Liverpool but you shouldn’t let that stand in the way of visiting. Recent years have seen considerable investment in the city, and it’s almost unrecognisable nowadays – and best of all – it’s still a lot of fun!
There’s plenty of attractions that you can take the kids to, including The Beatles Story on the Albert Docks, followed by a ferry across the Mersey if you don’t mind wind and seagulls. The city’s streets are packed with some of the best shops in the region, as well as some truly wonderful restaurants and bars.
1-2 Hour Drive…
In such a huge area as the Lake District, it would be impossible for us to completely do it justice in just a few lines of text. There’s Windermere, Coniston, Bowness, Keswick, Ambleside, plus some truly delightful scenery to drive through on the way.
There’s also an unusually high concentration of Michelin-starred restaurants here, including L’Enclume in Cartmel, The Cottage in the Wood in Braithwaite, and The Old Stamp House Restaurant in Ambleside.
Everyone loves Blackpool. You can’t go wrong with a stick of rock, a ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat and a massive bag of Fish and Chips on the pier. Everyone remembers being driven here as a kid and playing the game where the first person to spot the Tower wins.
Well, you can still do that, as long as you keep your eyes on the road too! There’s plenty to do in the seaside town, from visiting the Pleasure Beach to booking out a B&B on the Golden Mile and holidaying like your nan. Blackpool’s still got it – trust us!
The city itself is actually really small, surrounded by ancient city walls and with a skyline dominated by the huge York Minster Cathedral. It’s always a pleasure to explore the tiny alleys and back streets of the city, with a dead good pub or restaurant pretty much everywhere you look.
There’s loads to do here and SO much history that you’ll struggle to fit it all in within a couple of days.
One of the UK’s most stunning drives must be that from Manchester to Brontë Country, a vast, windswept area of moorland straddling the West Yorkshire and East Lancashire Pennines.
It’s also home to the gorgeous Hebden Bridge, and Haworth, the tiny village where the Bronte family lived. There are literally hundreds of walks in and around this area, and if you visit a village there’s always plenty of things to see and do.
A huge forest over in Cheshire, Delamere is great for a day trip so you can truly be at one with nature without having to sleep in a tent and cook your dinner over a damp campfire.
The landscape is stunning and there are plenty of things to do and activities to keep you entertained. There’s loads of walking routes, cycling routes and places to take the family. Close by is the town of Frodsham, a great place for a cracking Sunday Lunch.
For a few days…
Looking at the cost of a train from Manchester Piccadilly to Euston is enough to bring a few tears to a grown man’s eyes – so if you’re looking to visit ‘The Big Smoke’, driving is often the cheapest and easiest option. As you’d expect with the country’s capital, it’s a superb place for a staycation, with a seemingly infinite number of things to do.
A little bit of advice from us would be to stay away from Zones 1 and 2 and instead explore the suburbs of London, home to an ever-increasing range of world-class restaurants, bars and attractions. South of the river you’ll find Peckham and Brixton – both fantastic, while North – Islington, Camden, Hackney and Walthamstow.
Just saying ‘Cornwall’ isn’t enough to describe this huge stretch of the country – one which is pretty difficult to navigate unless you have a car. The region is massive, and there are significant differences between the different towns and areas, almost as if it’s just begging to be explored with 4 wheels.
The beaches are stunning, the quaint villages are perfect for a few days relaxing and you’ll always find outstanding restaurants, old pubs and some of the best seafood in the world.
The Highlands are vast and they are truly magnificent, and there’s LOADS to be getting on with up there. You can take in the Lochs from Inverness to Fort William, from there you can climb Ben Nevis or perhaps embark on the UK’s answer to Route 66 – the North Coast 500 – easily one of the most beautiful and exhilarating road trips in the world. I’ll be doing it for my birthday this year – and I can hardly wait.
Mt. Snowdon, and indeed the whole of the North of Wales, is truly stunning, and the perfect distance from Manchester for a weekend away. Alongside ample walks and nature trails, you’ll find canoeing, rock climbing, horse riding – plus loads more.
One of the best ways to explore the National Park is to drive to Llanberis and then take the Snowdon Mountain Railway, one of the world’s steepest railway inclines.
Virtuo Car Hire is available in Manchester right now. You can get things rolling here.
Featured image: Virtuo & Jim Roberts Gallery/Flickr
Here’s what happened to the infamous Kersal Massive after their early viral fame
The ringleader of the notorious rap trio was tracked down a few years ago…
Back in the early days of the internet, before the birth of TikTok and when YouTube reigned supreme, an unassuming rapping trio from Manchester were catapulted to viral stardom.
C-Mac, Little F*****g Kevin and Ginger Joe, all from Salford, made up the Kersal Massive, a rap trio that would go on to become instant internet stars thanks to their rap song about day-to-day life in Manchester.
Instead of using their music to address social inequality or political issues, the Kersal Massive instead opted to rap about life in Manchester, grand theft auto and using their day saver bus passes.
Their rap song was actually an entry for a contest to win a Kano-themed BMX, hosted by former record label 679 Recordings. Shockingly, the Kersal Massive didn’t win, but the video wound up on the internet, where they found online fame instead.
The video was one of the first viral sensations to ever grace the internet, and today has over 1.8m views on YouTube alone.
For years people have been trying to decipher the meaning behind the song, with one YouTuber optimistically commenting: “By referring to a ‘day saver’, Little Kev highlights the struggle of the working class, while at the same time bringing up questions about religion and culture with the following ‘laid low, did a grand theft auto’ line, and how the incarceration of the young in today’s western world is affecting our society.
“Such a lyrical genius. A poet in his own right.”
Another commented: “It has been said Ginger Joe now travels the globe giving lectures on philosophy and ethics… and is also a UN spokesman answering questions on the [meaning of] being human.”
Someone even went to the bother of creating a lyric page to search for any hidden meanings or political agendas behind the track – unsurprisingly, none were found.
Despite their initial success and claims of having ‘all the money ’cause we know how to rap’, however, the Kersal Massive only ever released the one song, and were as quick to slip out of the spotlight as they were to enter it.
This has caused many people to wonder what exactly happened to the Kersal Massive over the years, and what the rapping trio are up to these days.
Well, The Tab claimed to have tracked down the infamous ringleader of the Kersal Massive, C-Mac, back in 2016.
They said at the time that C-Mac – real name Callum – still lived in Salford and was working for a law firm in Manchester.
He told the publication of the video: “It was uploaded to the internet over ten years ago. It was done as a joke and then it just went viral. I don’t actually know who uploaded it to YouTube, it wasn’t me.”
Then, Callum went on to break the hearts of Kersal Massive fans far and wide by adding: “I am not in touch with the other two lads anymore.”
While the beloved Ginger Joe is yet to be identified or tracked down, many social media users believed a man on the run from GMP for a series of gun-related offences was in fact a grown-up Little F*****g Kev… though this was never proven.
Did you know the NHS was born in Manchester 74 years ago today?
Happy birthday to the NHS!
Today, as our treasured National Health Service marks its 74th anniversary, we’re taking a look back on its extensive history and the substantial role Manchester played in its creation.
Life before the NHS was a bleak one; before 1900, healthcare was typically provided by charities, poor law (the local welfare committees who operated workhouses) and a criminally unregulated private sector.
Others, including many in the lower middle class, struggled to afford treatment, relying on hospital casualty departments, kind-hearted doctors or dubious folk remedies – as a result of these archaic conditions, women frequently died during childbirth and the life expectancy for men was just forty-eight.
But in 1911, that was all set to change.
The National Insurance Act of 1911, something that many regard as the original groundworks for the NHS, was introduced and, for the first time, provided access to general practitioners for manual labourers and lower paid non-manual workers earning under a certain income.
However, this groundbreaking new system wasn’t without its flaws – fees for GPs were increasing for the middle class and wealthy who were outside the system, and the wives and children of National Insurance members were excluded, as was hospital treatment, meaning that many had to pay further fees or rely on older workers’ society insurance schemes or free, less reliable clinics for mothers and children.
Something needed to change.
Nearly two decades later, the Local Government Act 1929 gave authorities the power to transform Poor Law institutions and develop them into the modern hospitals we know today. And, fast forwarding another two decades and another world war, Aneurin Bevan was appointed as the minister of health and thus, the wheels for the UK’s first National Health Service were set in motion.
On July 5th 1948, after years of hard work from various medical and political figures who felt the current healthcare system was insufficient and needed to be revolutionised, the first NHS hospital offering free healthcare for all, regardless of class, was launched at Park Hospital Manchester – known today as Trafford General Hospital.
On that historic day, Bevan arrived to inaugurate the NHS by symbolically receiving the keys from Lancashire County Council. Nurses formed a ‘guard of honour’ outside the hospital to meet him and, from that day forward, the healthcare of the nation changed forever.
In the early days, there were of course some teething problems – not long after its launch, expenditure was already exceeding previous expectations and charges were considered for prescriptions to meet the rising costs. However, by the time the 1960s rolled around, these early adjustments were altered and it was considered to be a strong period of growth for the NHS, characterised by new developments in the availability of drugs.
Since its birth here in Manchester, our NHS has gone through many changes, improvements, updates and modernisation processes, with no one back in 1948 ever fathoming the way in which the service has developed, pioneered and expanded from Manchester across the entire country.
However, there’s still room for improvement.
Today, the NHS continues to face a national crisis – the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the impact that years of underfunding has had upon our health care service and the long-serving staff members and medical professionals that continue to hold it together.
In October 2020, it was revealed by the International Council of Nurses (ICN) that as many NHS nurses died from Covid than were killed during the entirety of the First World War.
But regardless of the hurdles thrown in its path, the NHS continues to valiantly serve the British public – the idea of a National Health Service once upon a time would have been unheard of, yet today we cannot imagine a life without it.
Happy 74th birthday to our wonderful NHS!
FORGOTTEN MANCHESTER: The rise and fall of Tommy Ducks
From coffins as tables and knickers stapled to ceiling, there wasn’t a lot that didn’t happen at Tommy Ducks…
Out of all of Manchester’s weird and wonderful institutions, the legacy of Tommy Ducks remains today as one of the all-time greats.
But what exactly happened to this infamous boozer?
Tommy Ducks stood proudly down what is now Lower Mosely Street, and is known to have roots dating all the way back to the 1800s.
While it is widely believed that it was originally named The Prince’s Tavern, the pub underwent a name change at some point in the 1870s after its egotistical landlord Thomas Duckworth wanted to name it after himself.
But rumour has it that the painter-decorator hired to replace the pub’s sign either ran out of paint and supplies or found he didn’t have enough room to fit in the full name, so improvised and come up with the name Tommy Ducks, instead.
Of course, there’s no solid evidence for this mishap actually happening, but it is certainly one of the more believable rumours about the pub’s namesake.
Anyway, the pub settled with its abbreviated name and went on to quietly serve the good people of Manchester throughout the 1900s.
But then the 1970’s arrived, and Tommy Ducks started to gain a different kind of reputation, with it quickly becoming one of the most sought after boozers in the city – quite the accomplishment considering it was stood in the middle of a recently-demolished estate.
One of the pubs more popular legacies is its makeshift tables – for reasons unbeknown to most Mancunians today, someone had the bright idea of using glass-topped coffins as tables, one of which was kidnapped by a rival pub for a while.
One of the coffins even featured a skeleton, which many people were adamant was a real one.
Tommy Ducks was also renown for having ladies knickers and bras stapled to the ceiling above the bar, with female punters allegedly been invited to remove their undies upon arrival (yes, before their first drink!).
The pub played home to these kind of shenanigans for the next couple of decades and, by the 1990s, it was one of the last standing buildings in the area, which lay in ruin following a mass demolishment.
However, in 1993 the pub’s temporary preservation order – arranged by punters and supporters back in the 1970s – expired, plunging its future into uncertainty and doubt.
Greenalls Brewery, which ran the pub, was also coming under increasing pressure by fat cat developers to sell up and shut shop.
Tragially, the temporary preservation order expired on a Friday, meaning that the council offices were closed for the weekend. And because the order couldn’t be renewed until Monday morning, demolition began in the early hours of Saturday.
While Greenalls was eventually fined £150,000 for their act of destruction, it was still too late – Tommy Ducks and its abundance of coffins and bras was gone forever.