Who needs Cannes when you have Southend, the only way is Essex.


To celebrate the launch of the 2015 Southend-on-Sea Film Festival, leading glamour model and actress Dani Thompson plus three model friends (reigning Miss Essex Devon Mayson, Ria Fend & Elly Prizeman) proved that an Essex film festival is far better than a French one, by recreating a vintage bikini clad scene from the Cannes Film Festival in perfect sunshine on Southend Beach, who needs Brad and Angelina.


The 7th annual Southend Film Festival will show more than forty films old and new films from across the globe and a wide variety of genres screened over the 5 days, 21st-25th May The Gala Opening will be the World Premiere of Age of Kill, an edgy thriller featuring a host of British stars (Martin Kemp, Phil Davis, Nick Moran, Dexter Fletcher, Donna Air, Patrick Bergin).


Champing the New Glamping

First we had glamping, camping without roughing it, now it seems we all want to champ, camping in churches it’s a fairly recent phenomenon only really becoming popular in the last year or so, it would appear that more church premises are now available to rent, it probably makes good financial sense, with profits going towards the maintenance of these ecclesiastical venues. The Churches Conservation Trust which coordinate these breaks, has a full list of Churches to hire, and from as little as £45pp a night, and at least you will be out of the rain, of course that’s if the roofs not leaking.




The Fins are leading the way

Finnair Board of Directors has approved an investment program for bringing Wi-Fi connectivity to the majority of Finnair's wide-body and narrow-body fleet. The total value of the investment is approximately €30 million.

"This investment will enable us to offer a wide array of new services to our customers, ranging from inflight entertainment to inflight sales and ancillaries", says Pekka Vauramo, Finnair CEO.

Finnair will introduce its first on-board Wi-Fi service in autumn 2015, with the arrival of the first Finnair A350 XWB aircraft. In 2016, the company will start Wi-Fi installations in Finnair's Airbus A330 long-haul aircraft as well as its European short-haul Airbus fleet. Installations are expected to be completed by 2018.




How to make the most of your holiday budget

Money saving site PromotionalCodes.org.uk have come up with 15 clever ways to save when booking your holiday without compromising on quality.


1.    Search incognito for flights/hotels­­- Even when browsing for hotels and flights online, make sure you use an incognito window. Hotel and travel sites have certain cookies on their sites where they can track how many times you’ve looked at a certain site and bump up the price if they think you’re interested.


2.    Ditch the travel agent- Book your holiday yourself. Avoiding travel agents will save you money because it means that you won’t have to pay them commission. Researching holidays online has never been easier and doing it yourself gives you the comfort of knowing that you have found the best possible deal. Don’t be afraid to call up travel shops and ask them for the best prices. In many cases if you mention that you were offered a better deal elsewhere they might reduce their initial offer.


3.    Use discount codes- Voucher code websites are great for saving money on holidays and can make a real difference to your overall holiday cost. Visit voucher code websites like PromotionalCodes.org.uk for some great discount codes. Saving money before you go means that you will have more money to spend when you get there.


4.    Be cautious- Many people assume that last minute holidays are the cheapest but a lot of deals do not include the cost of transfers, catering and insurance. Shop around for the best deal and when you see a holiday you like, take the booking to the next stage. There are often additional charges added on so make sure you find out the final fee rather than comparing deals by just looking at the advertised price.


 5.    Compare travel insurance- The trouble with booking online can mean that travel insurance is suggested on your flight or hotel booking automatically and it’s easy to agree to it without thinking. Make sure you book travel insurance separately and find the best deal on a price comparison site. Often supermarket travel insurance is the cheapest and simplest solution.


 6.    Always book hire car before you go- Holiday car hire can save a great deal on taxis to and from the airport. So if you're going to need it, book early to avoid sky-high prices. Again, beware of costly add-ons like air-con, sat-navs and extra drivers. Before you book, work out what you need and ditch the rest. Finding fly-drive package deals and claiming cash back can also make savings.


 7.    Villas and hostels cheaper than hotels- If you don’t fancy battling it out for a sun-lounger each morning, rented villas offer space for large groups of friends, or families with kids who need to let off steam in your own private pool. Generally the larger the group, the bigger the per-person saving, so villas and apartments are much more cost-effective if you’re booking for a big group. Also, hostels have some excellent facilities with double and family private rooms. Check out reviews before you go and you could be surprised at how much you save.


 8.    Try and book out of summer holidays- If you have to book in the summer holidays, try and hold off until the very end of August and beginning of September. October half term is a great time to book a holiday too and could save you up to 20% over peak season prices. 


 9.    Buy a sightseeing card- A must-have if you are visiting a city, many tourist destinations offer amazing sightseeing cards, that for a fixed price include entry to all the major landmarks and in some cases can be used as a travel card for public transport. Buy yours in advance and pick it up from tourist information at the airport.


 10. Book different elements separately- It may be tempting to just book everything together in a package deal but hidden added costs can bump the price up enough to make your eyes water. Even simple things like booking your flights as two one way singles instead of return flights can save a great deal.


11.  Book well in advance- The general rule of thumb is book up to three or four months before you plan on going. Flights and trains all have a certain quota of seats that they’ll sell for the lowest price and once these seats are booked up, the next lot will be a bit more expensive and so on. This goes for accommodation too so book early to avoid this downfall.


12. Grab family discounts- Loads of tour operators run offers that allow children to travel for free with a paying adult so if you’re booking online you should always look out for them. This applies for lots of theme parks, attractions and hotels too.


13. Get free guide books from library- Don’t fork out for a really expensive guidebook that you’re only going to use for this holiday. Pop down to your local library and borrow their copy for your trip or ask around your friends.


14. Don’t be put off by currency exchange- The pound is now at one of its strongest points and travelling in the Eurozone or US dollar will actually get you more bang for your buck.


15.  The small hours are the cheapest


Half Term Offers

I know we have had some great weather so far this year, but I’m not sure it will last, or reappear at half term when the kids are off; Canvas Holidays are offering seven nights’ accommodation in the South of France from £123 arriving 23rd May, and staying in a Maxi Tent (sleeps up to six people). Ferry crossings can also be booked with Canvas Holidays.

 For an active family break, head to Camping la Sirène, Argelès and enjoy a fun-packed week of adventure. Younger visitors will relish splashing about in the pools and waterslides, while parents kick back and relax on the palm-fringed desert island. Anyone feeling more adventurous can try their hand at horse riding, wind surfing or even scuba diving.

The campsite is a short walk from the coastal town of Argelès-sur-Mer, ideal for a day exploring the sites or enjoying the local bars and restaurants. Families can also enjoy a guided tour of the nearby Valley of theTortoises, home to over forty different species of Tortoise, or enjoy an adrenaline rush on the fairground rides at Luna Park. www.canvasholidays.co.uk.  



Fireworks and it’s not even New Year

Malta has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the last few days following the latest tragedy involving desperate immigrants, and not to dismiss the depth of feeling there must be in relation to this, this small Mediterranean island is hosting the 14th edition of the annual Malta International Fireworks Festival which will be taking place from April 25th to May 2nd. The festival marks the anniversary celebrations of Malta’s accession to the European Union attracting thousands of locals and visitors alike to behold this colourful spectacle.
Visitors can witness Malta’s skies light up in an array of colours at the Malta International Fireworks Festival which will kick off in the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk on Saturday 25th of April. This wonderful event will continue on Thursday 30th of April in the historical capital of Valletta, set against the magnificent backdrop of Valletta’s Grand Harbour. The fiery finale will come to a close in the bustling coastal town of Bugibba on Saturday 2nd of May featuring a pyro musical show displaying the fantastic synchronisation between fireworks and music.
The Maltese Archipelago is renowned for its love of fireworks, which form a core part of almost any celebration or event organized. This year’s event will prove to be an added reason to visit some of Malta’s most scenic and historic spots during April and May.