BMW 3 SeriesYou may have picked this news up from some of the recent commentary anyway, but I just thought I’d write a quick post to tell everyone that we now have the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series back on the Avis Select Series. The BMWs were immensely popular when we first introduced them so we’re delighted to have them back.

The 3 Series are a mix of 318d and 320d. They are also a mix of SEs and M Sports, although there are more M Sports than SEs. The 5 Series are all 520d SEs.

If you rent one of our BMWs and fancy writing a review (and, ideally, take a few photos) then please send it in to If we publish it, we will sort you out with a free 3-day weekend rental in one of our 3 Series as a way of saying thanks (there are some terms and condition so email me if you are interested and I’ll send these over).

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I haven’t had a chance to blog about it until now but a few weeks back I drove up to the Peak District for the weekend. The Peak District had never really appealed to me but a few recent trips around the UK had opened my eyes to how beautiful our country can be and, as it is very accessible from the south, I thought I’d make the drive up. Armed with my “Walk Britain: Great Views” book, I set my sights on hiking The Roaches and Mam Tor. Here is my account of my two hikes:

The Roaches
As you drive through Upper Hulme and approach the gritstone cliffs and clustered rock formations of the Roaches, you can’t help but get a little excited. While I’ve seen plenty of beautiful sights on the British landscape, I’ve never seen anything so quite unusual. When you approach the gritstone rocks themselves you will wonder what natural events could possibly have led them to take on such mangled and twisted shapes. But there is plenty more going on. On the larger cliff faces you’ll find rock climbers taking on the challenge of scaling them. Surrounding the rocks are clusters of woodlands, pasturelands and moorlands that add plenty of colour and texture to the scene. The problem is that if you focus too much on the details in front of you, you may miss the stunning panoramic views of the hilly Peak District countyside beyond. The views are visible from all the way along the ridge and stretch for miles.

Starting at the road alongside the Roaches, you can start your hike at Hen Cloud, the first of four distinct summits. Make your way along the The Roaches until you come to Roach End. Many people turn back here but I’d recommend carrying on through on the “Concession Path to Danebridge”. Then, at the intersection, if you turn right, heading in the direction of Gradbach, you’ll come to Lud’s Church. Which, incidentally, is not actually a church but a green, mossy chasm that seemingly appears out of the middle of nowhere. It is the stuff of fairytales. From here, make your way back along the ridge towards Hen Cloud. All in all, the hike is about 8.5 miles.

Mam Tor
My second hike was Mam Tor, or the “Shivering Mountain” as it also known. The hike centres around the Great Ridge, where you hike up to the top of Lose Hill and make your way along up to Mam Tor. The views are amazing, particularly over Hope Valley where you can see cliffs, moorland and the dramatic gorges – most notably Winnat’s Pass which is believed to have once been an undersea ravine. Meanwhile, the cliff-face of Mam Tor reveals it’s layers of shale and grit, an awesome addition to the view.

From Mam Tor you can either head back down to town via Winnat’s Pass or through Cave Dale. The latter option provides this hike’s fairytale addition: Peveril Castle, which sits nestled along the edge of the cavern. The town you are heading into (which is also where you’ll start) is Castleton is blessed with an abundance of great pubs that you can visit for a well earned post-hike drink. Castleton also has a number of other great local attractions most notably Peak Cavern.

Despite my preconceptions, these hikes opened my eyes to what a stunning addition the Peak District National Park is to the British landscape. The Roaches is now one of my favourite UK hikes. And the best thing is that it’s central position makes it a highly accessible park to visit from many parts of the country!


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When you think of festivals at the moment you’re mind is probably going to turn to the upcoming music heavyweights such as Reading/Leeds and V. But my colleague Vicky has tried to think outside the box and, in doing so, has put together this great guide to some weird and wonderful festivals that you might not know about. Some of them look brilliant. The 80′s Rewind festival in Henley is not too far from me… although I’m not so sure about brushing off the spandex…

The Out Of The Ordinary Festival 2009
A three day eco-friendly family festival from the 18th – 20th September, set in the lovely Sussex countryside. A chance to experience the Equinox Sunrise and really get back to nature, with solar-powered music stages, a green market and a zero waste policy. Tickets available via the site from just £57 for three days.

Festibelly 2009
A one day festival on the 29th August, this is an intimate event with only 1000 tickets on sale. Set in gorgeous countryside in Hampshire, it features up-and-coming new musical talent and street-art battles. At just £25 per ticket you’ll be able to watch some fantastic bands, eat some scrumptious food, and enjoy what’s set to be one big party. Oh and they’re throwing in camping for free!

Solfest 2009
Held on the August bank holiday weekend (28th- 30th August) at Tarnside Farm in West Cumbria, Solfest aims to create a great atmosphere through its sense of community. Welcoming everyone from all walks of life to four music stages, workshops and classes from Yoga to Burlesque; drumming to Sing-A-Long-A-Soundwave! Tickets are £85 for the weekend, and for some added luxury, why not rent a yurt or a squirt for the weekend?

One Love Reggae Festival
Head down to Port Lympne Safari Park in Kent from 21st-23rd August for three days of live reggae music. Not only will you be spoilt for choice with five stages playing everything from roots to ragga, but you’ll also have unlimited access to the wildlife park for just £5 extra! Where else in the UK can you chill out to drum beats in the company of rhinos, tigers and elephants? Weekend tickets are £70.

Wizard Festival
Is taking place from the 28th- 29th of August in Aberdeenshire. A Scottish festival for families and festival-goers alike in its third year, featuring fabulous bands and family entertainment. A ticket for the entire weekend only costs £70 – including camping!

80’s Rewind Festival
On the 21st – 23rd of August in Temple Island Meadows, Henley on Thames. If you’ve got love for the 80’s then this is the festival for you! All the original acts of the era will be dusting off their spandex and busting the moves on stage once more. You can visit the fun fair, comedy tent and eat all the posh nosh you like at this festival and you can even moor your boat for the weekend if you please! Tickets £90 including camping.

Newquay Fish Festival
Being held from the 18th-20th of September, this festival is not just for fans of the fruits of the sea, but those looking for a fun day out too. There will be live bands and entertainers, dolphin and shark-spotting trips, a fresh fish BBQ, beer tent and a sandcastle competition, just to mention a few of the activities lined up.

PS – please let us know if you have any alternative festivals of your own!

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While some continue to doubt the effect the human race has had on climate change across our planet, there is no doubting that tackling climate change is high on the political agenda. 183 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which represents a legally binding commitment to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Much of the effort is being channelled on to reducing the amount of CO2 that we emit into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.

Road vehicles account for 19% of domestic greenhouse gas emissions in the UK so it should be no surprise that this is a major area of focus in reducing our carbon footprint. As such, the UK has committed to reducing the CO2 output of new car registrations to an average that is no higher than 130 g/km by 2012 and to an average no higher than 95 g/km by 2020.

Hitting these targets is largely dependent on the accessibility of vehicles that run on low carbon fuels. One of these alternatives, hydrogen fuel cells, is still too expensive to produce (and being some 10 years away from being practical according to government projections) while one of the other great hopes, biofuels, are being challenged on their environmental credentials, particularly given the high profile impact it has had on food supplies. Both fuel types continue to be the recipient of significant financial investment and, with good reason, have the potential to provide a long-term solution in the replacement of fossil fuels.

The UK government, however, is going to focus it’s energies on encouraging the uptake of electric and hybrid cars, for the short-term at least. The government is serious about this but, at the same time, is realistic about the challenges it faces. They are fully aware of the stigma electric cars have attracted due to their characteristicly ugly looks, poor performance, poor driving range (try taking a G-Wiz further than 40 miles) and an incredibly long re-charging time (about 7 hours on the mains).

There are plenty of incentives for manufacturers to resolve the issues of performance and there is plenty of evidence that progress is being made. Nissan Motor Company, for example, recently announced that, with the help of the government, they are planning to open plants to manufacture their advanced lithium-ion batteries in Sunderland. They also recently announced the launch of the Nissan Leaf which they plan to lead with as the first mass produced electric car, producing 100,000 by 2012. We even now have our first electric sports car in the form of the Tesla Roadster.

Of course consumers may need a little more encouragement if they are to trade-in their current car for an eco-friendly alternative. For this reason the government has committed £230 million to fund a £2k to £5k incentive to encourage consumers to buy electric. The incentive is due to launch in 2011. Similarly, £30 million has been allocated to encourage the development of an infrastructure of electric re-charging units that plug directly into the national grid, charging your car in under 10 minutes.

It seems to me that many of the right steps are being taken. We’ll potentially have the cars and the infrastructure to make electric a goer. But somehow I still have my doubts about just how popular electric cars will be. I can’t help shaking this nagging feeling that it will take more than an incentive to get people to lose their beloved petrol car. Maybe it’s because people, in isolation, do not feel they can have any impact on climate change. But there is also the fact that, in our Western society, the car remains one of our precious symbols of status and trading that in is a difficult pill to swallow.

But then what is the alternative? Whether you are a sceptic about climate change or not, the worst case scenarios are so terrible that it seems too big a gamble to ignore. Whole species face extinction, lives are in danger and, according to The Stern Report, not taking action could cost from five to 20 per cent of global GDP every year, now and in the future.

So how do you feel about the future of motoring? What would it take to convince you to trade in your car for an ultra-low carbon alternative? Is it about performance, looks, driving range? Or would you never consider doing such a thing?

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Carrying on with our Best Of British theme, today our staff tell us their favourite British castles…

Dover Castle, Kent

“Dover Castle can be considered one of Britain’s great defences, protecting the border against invaders from the continent for 800 years. More recently, the castle performed important defensive duties during the Second World War where underground tunnels were converted into a secret military command centre and underground hospital – now restored and open for everyone to experience! The castle was critical in the evacuation of French and English soldiers from Dunkirk. But even without its incredible history, the castle poses a formidable structure. You really need a whole day there to see everything – it’s well worth the £10 entry fee.

If you get time afterwards, you can walk along the White Cliffs of Dover and visit South Foreland Lighthouse, where Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first international wireless message in 1899. Entry to both is free for National Trust members.”
Sara – Avis HQ

Stirling Castle, Scotland

“One of Scotland’s finest! Takes visitors back in time through the ages of Scottish history. Explore also the Wallace monument and Bannockburn Heritage Centre and relax in the many bars and restaurants in this truly vibrant city”
Gordon – Avis Stirling

Bodiam Castle, East SussexBodiam Castle

“Bodiam Castle is the stereotypical castle that you rarely actually ever see – a quadrangular castle in design with dominanting towers, surrounded by a moat. It’s the stuff of fairytales – close your eyes and you can imagine the castle wrapped under the claws of a menancing, fire-breathing dragon as it fends off the attacks from the knight on horseback who, of course, has ridden to the fallen castle’s rescue. You can find the castle in East Sussex although it is seemingly in the middle of nowhere (which only adds to the mystique). For the complete experience, take the steam train to the castle from Tenterden in Kent.”
Rob – Avis HQ
Photo courtesy of The National Trust

Oxford Castle, Oxfordshire

“A castle-cum-prison-cum-gastro-centre! Used as a prison until just a few years ago, Oxford Castle now combines its historic ambience with the best selection of bistros in the city – a great way to mix old and new!”
Mark – Avis Oxford

Windsor Castle, BuckinghamshireWindsor Castle

“One of three principal residences of the British monarchy, Windsor Castle is beautiful as castles come. The huge, sprawling complex is intrinsically linked with the history of the monarchy over
the past 650 years. It is equally important to the Windsor community today, dominating the city centre.”
Vicki, Avis HQ

For more information on our Best Of British: Top 5 Castles, visit our website As always, if you’ve got any suggestions of castles of your own then please feel free to send them!

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We recently ran a survey asking you “How well do you know our world?”. But the survey was actually designed to ask you “How well do you know our Great Britain?”. The survey placed photos of beautiful and, some times, exotic looking places and asked participants to select where they thought the photo was taken. The questions were asked using multiple choice and the options generally stacked stunning holiday destinations that we all aspire to visit, against some British destinations that are a little closer to home. The correct answers were invariably the British option.

The aim of the survey was to challenge people to realise just how beautiful our country is and I think it achieved just this. For example, 30% confused the Scottish Sands of Morar for a beach in the Caribbean. And UK ports were mistaken for sunny Mediterrean ones while the skyline of the city of Manchester was repeatedly identified as that of New York or Sao Paulo. Perhaps more surprisingly, many struggled to identify some of Britain’s most famous landmarks. 45% of respondents incorrectly identified the location of Stonehenge while 40% did not know where Windsor Castle is.

In many ways it’s a shame because, while the results show that we take the beauty of our country for granted, it also implies (through our poor knowledge) that perhaps many of Britain’s top attractions are yet to be enjoyed by us Brits. Great Britain attracts an army of tourists every year and maybe, in that 1 or 2 weeks they are here, they visit some amazing places that, over our entire lifetime, we still haven’t found the time to enjoy.

Yet we live in a relatively small country that is easy to drive around while flying is relatively cheap. So when you next think about how you use your 104 weekend days, your 20+ days holiday and your 8 bank holidays, maybe try going somewhere a little closer to home. You might be surprised by what you find.

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