Staycation, traincation, daycation? These corny pigeonholes for our holiday choices were surpassed last week by a new term, "patriotourism".
The guide book publisher Rough Guides uses this new word to sum up the result of its recent survey that found 35 per cent of participants plan a holiday in Britain because they're inspired by their love for their country.
I'm a big fan of the domestic holiday and have spent the past month journeying no further afield than Jersey and the New Forest. Both were a delight, bathed in unseasonal sunshine and with the extra pleasures of a new crop of Jersey Royal potatoes and ponies grazing on Hampshire heathland. But, surely, you don't have to label yourself a patriot to know that Britain is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Travelling beyond Britain's borders isn't a requirement of either of our two current travel-related contests, the IoS/Bradt Travel Writing Competition and the IoS/Insight Guides Travel Photography Competition. You can seek inspiration for your entries at home or abroad.
This year's Travel Writing Competition – deadline Friday 20 May 2011 – has a top prize of a holiday for two to eastern Turkey, an area too little written about. Our winner will not only have the article that won the competition printed in these pages, but they will also be commissioned by me to write a piece on their prize trip. Also, we have a special prize again for unpublished writers – a place on a foreign-based travel-writing course with Traveller's Tales.
The theme for 2011 is "Up the Creek", a prompt you can take literally or metaphorically. We ask that you compose a piece that is no fewer than 600 words and no more than 800 and meet our deadline – after all, writing to a brief is half the lesson of becoming a professional travel writer. Your hard work will be thoroughly studied, first by our long-list judge and then by the good folk of Bradt Travel Guides and myself. We whittle it down to the final 10 or so and pass on the honour of choosing a winner to the eminent writer and broadcaster Matthew Parris.
For those of you who are more visually creative, the travel photography competition has a top prize of a commission worth £3,000 to take photographs for one of the forthcoming Insight Guides. This year's winner will also receive an Olympus PEN E-PL2 camera, and there are more Olympus cameras for the second, third and under-18s prizes. The deadline for this competition is 16 September 2011.
To find out more about both competitions, go to independent.co.uk/travel. Good luck!
It was great to see the Caribbean island of Montserrat feature, albeit briefly, on last Monday's profile of Sir George Martin on BBC2's Arena. The record producer, most famous for his work with The Beatles, opened an outpost of Air Studios on the island in 1979 but was forced to close it after Hurricane Hugo hit Montserrat in 1989. The Soufrière Hills volcano eruption in 1995 meant there was little chance Sir George would open the studios again. Still, he hasn't broken his links with this special place; he keeps a home there and has raised funds to help rebuild the island, including establishing a cultural centre. I'll hold up my hand: my in-laws are from Montserrat, so I have an interest. But anyone who has ever visited, before or after the eruption, would recommend a trip to this beautiful little island if you're in the region.
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