Whitsun Bank Holiday! Time to get in the car and get away from the weather! But where? Fear not - today we bring you a brilliant list of places to visit, any of which will make a wonderful British Bank Holiday day out!
Sealed Flask Display at Anti-War Rally, Warwick
If the famous Sealed Knot re-enact historic battles, then the lesser-known Sealed Flask are equally dedicated to the revival of forgotten diseases. Anyone who has seen their dramatic re-enactment of the Black Death or the Great Plague will not forget it in a hurry. But this time, for the anti-war rally, they have devised a revisit to the killer flu epidemic of 1919, and also a side demonstration of some of the more remarkable ailments of the Great War. "Have you ever actually seen trench foot?" says director Hugo Blint. "It's wonderfully horrible. Not to be missed."
Did you think that all flags were factory-made in Taiwan? Think again! The last flag mill in Britain is still fully functional in Wales, between Chepstow and Newport, where they still handweave flags of all nations on old hand-looms, and export them all over the world. A marvellous display of flags of the world blows proudly in the flag mast park. Windy days, full price; calm days, entry free.
JR Hartley's House
Writer's houses are often open to the public, but this is the first time they have opened up the house of a writer who never existed! JR Hartley's book on fly-fishing in the Yellow Pages ads became so popular that it was only a matter of time before his workplace was "discovered" - and this little Queen Anne cottage by the banks of the Itchen River plays the part perfectly. "If people think Hartley exists, then he exists," says the curator, Annie Lashley. "I certainly think he exists. And this house exists all right. So, what's your problem?"
Did you think that all chewing-gum was factory made in the Third World? Think again! Haslitt's, the last Victorian chewing-gum foundry in Britain, has never closed. It's on the road south of Preston in Lancashire, where they still produce chewing-gum by hand in the traditional way, using such long-forgotten English gum flavours as Pontefract cake, hyssop, lavender, Earl Grey and salt'n'vinegar. One of the most popular lines at their heritage gum stall is their old-fashioned Boxer Rising chewing-gum, which is opium based!
The Battle That Never Took Place
In 1643, the forces of Cromwell massed in Northamptonshire for a battle. The King's forces also massed, but in nearby Bedfordshire. After several days fruitless search for each other, they marched their separate ways. Experts now think that if they had met, they would have done battle on Fletcher's Fields, an open expanse which exists unspoilt to this day. Now, for the first time, this unused battlefield is open to the public. "Today," says the brochure, "Fletcher's Fields lie quiet and tranquil. 360 years ago, they were exactly the same. It is rare to find a battlefield that has changed so little. Now, relive the clash of mighty armies that didn't take place that day!"
Did you think that all bookmarks are now mass-produced in Eastern Europe? Think again! To this very day, The Old Bookmark Works in Greenock, Scotland, produces traditional leather bookmarks, hand-tooled and hand-fringed, or even ribbon bookmarks that you can sew into your own books. In the attached Bookmark World you can see 2,000 years of bookmarks, as well as some of the more extraordinary things which people have left inside library books when returning them! (Kippers, cigars, live mice, false teeth...) They have a model of the spontaneously-combusting bookmark which may have led to the destruction of the Library of Alexandria.
Motorway Service Area Open Day
Some motorway service areas are offering open access days today, allowing you to see behind the scenes. See the secret approach roads that nobody knows about! Go down the scary subterranean tunnels under the motorway which secretly link many northbound and southbound services. Find out the REAL story behind RAC recruitment! Peer into the cruel dungeons where fighting football fans are kept overnight! Just ask your local area if they are open this weekend.