Travel Secrets

Know Before You Go!



Take me into Mount Stewart Gardens, Northern Ireland. I’ve heard they are stunning.

You heard right. Listen to TS Editor Shubhra Krishan gush about the gardens…

Ireland Mount Stewart Garden

What shall I call it? A garden within a mansion or a mansion within a garden? The structure does not matter, now that I am looking back and letting the memories jot themselves down here. I remember the flowers. Their scent is suddenly around me, sweet and delicate perfume in the cool spring air. And I remember the wide open lawns, the profusion of trees, herbs, shrubs, flowers and ponds…

The Mount Stewart gardens are no hidden beauty. All of Ireland loves and reveres them. When I visited in September 2014, the mansion was under restoration. And it was inspiring and amazing to see how dedicatedly the staff there were going about their painstaking job.

Ireland Mount Stewart Garden 3

Mount Stewart has an elaborate website, where you will learn that the property belongs to the 7th Marchioness Edith, Lady Londonderry and her family in the early 20th century.

But details aside, what really matters is that the Gardens, very thoughtfully, house a second-hand bookshop and plenty of trees under which you can read those books. There is a restaurant, too, which sources its ingredients locally.

If you go in April 2015 or after, the mansion and gardens will have been restored to their full glory, and you will experience pleasure and peace of the kind one rarely gets to enjoy.

Ireland Mount Stewart Garden 2

You have to believe me when I tell you this: my jetlag and sleep vanished—vazoom!—within seconds of entering Mount Stewart. A deep sense of serenity and joy took their place and stayed with me for the rest of my trip. In fact, each time I think back to that afternoon among the golden, orange leaves and the happy flowers, I feel the same joy bubble up in my heart.

Ireland Mount Stewart Garden 5

Tell me more about Ireland’s Short-Stay Visa Waiver Scheme

  • The Short-Stay Visa Waiver Scheme was introduced in July 2011 to encourage tourism to the island of Ireland.
  • The scheme allows visitors from specific Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asian countries who have a valid UK C general visa to visit Ireland without the need for a separate Irish Visa.
  • The visa waiver scheme requires a once validation in the UK for the UK C general visa before it can be used to visit Ireland.
  • Visitors must travel to Ireland within the time remaining on their current UK 180 day leave to remain.image012
  • If it has been more than 180 days since the last visit to the UK you will not be able to travel to Ireland without an Irish visa.
  • Please refer to the official INIS information note on the Visa Waiver Programme for more detailed information. This information can be found on

Have you put Norwich on your wishlist yet?

Asks Preeti Shenoy, one of India’s best-selling authors; and then tells you why you should:

If you’re going to London this year, here’s a thrilling secret. Take a bus to Norwich, and go experience the Norfolk broads. “Miles and miles of gentle waterways glistening in the sunlight with peaceful Norfolk countryside as far as the eye can see,” is how the locals would describe it. What they do not tell you, is how truly uplifting for the soul it is.

Norwich Quay Side Image:
Norwich Quay Side Image:

The Norfolk Broads are UK’s largest nationally protected wetland. They are 125 miles of gentle, navigable and picturesque waterways with plenty of place to moor, jump off the boat and explore charming little villages or market towns or just while away an afternoon at a pub, with a bottle of wine some soulful music and good company.

You can either take a group tour or hire your own boat. Better still, book a Picnic Boat that comes equipped with a toilet and a stove where you can make coffee, tea or anything hot.

Boats for Hire Image:
Boats for Hire Image:

Love it enough to linger? Take an excursion boat with bedrooms, and go off for 3-4 days. We hired a picnic boat, which put us in total charge. We took turns driving it. It was truly a marvellous experience to “park” the boat and explore the land and then come back and sail away.

Tip: it is best to let the fittest members in your group to moor the boat.

Put the Norfolk broads trip on your  “List of places to visit before I die.” You are sure to cherish it.

Read more about Norfolk:

Preethi ShenoyPreeti Shenoy

Q: I am going to London. Where can I have the best fish and chips?

Olesya Nova, London local and TS correspondent says: When most people think of UK food, one of the first things that comes to mind is fish and chips. It’s been popular for around 150 years with the first fish and chip shop in London opening in 1860!  I really don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this traditional supper treat, and each area in London will have its own popular local place.

Seafresh London

A family favourite of ours, just south of central London in Victoria is: Seafresh on Wilton Road. My mum was the one to discover it originally and now all of us frequently visit the place. It’s always busy and the portions are huge. There’s both a sit down restaurant and also a take-away, if you don’t want to eat in.

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