We’re dreaming of a strike-free Christmas…hopes for truce on the trains to halt festive shutdown
Chalkmarks: Atlantic Loire, France, 2019

Good morning. This is what happened in the world of travel this week: Friday 2nd December 2022

NO Christmas rail strike deal, baguettes get Unesco listed and Elton John to headline Glastonbury! Your fact-packed, must-read weekly travel round-up

Holidays are coming!

Guess what? There’s still no deal to end the industrial action on the trains this Christmas. “Halt strikes with festive truce, rail union urged”, is the plea on the front page of today’s Times. Tuesday is said to be the final day for a breakthrough between the unions and the rail operators. This is due to the notice train staff need for their shifts. If there’s no agreement (even if it comes after Tuesday), the disruption will go ahead, adding up to almost four weeks of chaos. Here last week we reported the RMT announced strike action by 40,000 members over eight days in a series of 48-hour strikes. There are four dates before Christmas: Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th then Friday 16th and Sunday 17th; and another four in the New Year: Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th and Friday 6th and Saturday 7th. Network Rail has also tweeted its Christmas rail engineering works with disruption starting on 23rd December until 3rd January 2023.

Très crusty: The humble French baguette earned a place on the Unesco world heritage list on Wednesday. It was recognised as Intangible Cultural Heritage that has sat at the heart of French daily life…for…well, for ever. Its new status preserves French know-how and the recipe – which requires just four ingredients flour, water, salt and yeast – which no one else has managed to imitate said President Emmanuel Macron. He said it was “250 grams of magic and perfection”. The BBC wrote that France bakes 16 million baguettes a day. We can smell them from St Pancras. Bonjour, bonjour! In 2020 we reported how Unesco had added Singapore’s hawker culture to its list of global.

What’s next: Unesco wants to see Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on its “in danger” list. The world’s largest and most famous reef system off the north-eastern coast of Australia has been on the World Heritage List since 1981 but now Unesco wants to see more being done to protect it from climate change. The Guardian reported that experts believe conservation of the corals has been too slow.

Have you seen our pictures: Our fantastic travel photos, which capture some of our favourite destinations around the world, are now available for sale on Alamy. Woohoo!

We luv London: London is really a city within a city….within a city. Within the old Roman City Walls you’ll find the Barbican, Leadenhall Market and St Paul’s. The Tower of London didn’t come along until a thousand years after the Romans arrived in 43. It was built outside the City Wall in 1078, which was around the same time that London became the nation’s capital. Modern additions to the City include a handful of skyscrapers all located around Bishopsgate, including the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, the Scalpel and the Cheesegrater. The latest, is known by its address, TwentyTwo, and was completed in 2020. Read all about what you should know about London here

Coming down the track: Travel expert Simon Calder tweeted about a new rail route run by a new train operator that will link London to south west Wales. From 2024 Grand Union Trains will compete with Great Western Railways by offering passengers five daily services between London Paddington and Carmarthen linking also Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport. The Office of Rail and Road said the new trains will bring “choice for passengers, new direct journey opportunities, more price competition, and new comfortable trains.”

Is St Ives worth a visit? Known for its picture-postcard harbour, beaches, surfing and art galleries, this Cornish seaside town was named the happiest place to live in the UK. It topped Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index for its green spaces, local facilities and community spirit. Although the average house price is more than half a million, it should be affordable for a weekend break.. Galashiels in the Scottish Borders came second on the list and Woodbridge in Suffolk third. St Ives estate agent Paul Le Bas told Cornwall Live: “The coastal walks are second to none. From Porthminster round to Clodgy the views are stunning as you look out over the turquoise seas. As the seasons change, so does the town. The sea shows its power with its Northly swells pounding the beaches and the town becomes a winter wonderland of festive lights for Xmas. Even Father Christmas arrives on the Lifeboat.”

Coming soon: One of the largest dinosaurs to ever walk the earth will be on show in London from next year. The  titanosaur – aka Patagotitan mayorum – with its gigantic neck is 37 metres long, that’s three London buses. It lived about 100 million years ago and stomped across all the continents. The enormous skeleton, discovered in Patagonia, Argentina, in 2008, will just about squeeze into the Natural History Museum, in March 2023. This will be its first outing in Europe. Tickets are already on sale.

As we woke up: The UK’s biggest music festival Glastonbury will be back in 2023 with Elton John headlining on the pyramid stage on Sunday 25th June. It was announced this morning this will mark the last day of the rocket man’s final ever tour. Don’t rush to buy tickets though, they’re all sold out!

Tree news: The lights on the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square were switched on last night starting the countdown to the big day. The tree has been gifted by Norway since 1947 as a thank you for Britain’s support during World War II. All wrapped up in his ceremonial robes, the Lord Mayor of Westminster tweeted the twinkling image. Here it comes: Christmas is just 23 days away!

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That’s the spirit!

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