The perfect bank holiday - warm, sunny and empty

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The Independent Online
Britain has just had its warmest and sunniest Easter since 1989, with temperatures rising to 16-17C away from sea breezes, but a record 1.5 million people missed it by leaving the country.

Airports in the United Kingdom handled about 900,000 passengers over the holiday period. Gatwick reported an "incredibly busy" time, with 294,000 passengers in the main four days, 17 per cent up on last year, and Heathrow had 1.2 million from last Wednesday to today - 42,000 more than last year.

The Channel Tunnel was being used to the limit of the restricted capacity allowed since last year's fire. Le Shuttle said it carried 110,000 car passengers on its trains, nearly 15 per cent more than last Easter. Eurostar said 120,000-140,000 people used its trains between London and Paris or Brussels, close to its maximum. Not to be beaten, the main cross-Channel ferry operators also reported near-capacity bookings. Before the evening traffic build-up, AA Roadwatch said some of the busiest roads were around Whipsnade zoo park in Bedfordshire, where a baby white rhinoceros the size of a labrador dog but "with dinner-plate feet and enormous ears" was adding to the attractions.

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