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The best dog-friendly holiday destinations

Woman with dogS MAG

Victoria and her dogs loved stretching their legs on the Scillies’ stunning beaches

Isles of Scilly

Turquoise seas, exotic sub-tropical gardens and white sandy beaches are normally associated with long-haul flights, but when your travelling companions are of the four-legged variety, this isn’t really an option.

The Isles of Scilly promise all these things and more, and are only a stone’s throw from the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula. The Scillies form an archipelago – five of the islands are inhabited and the other 135 or so range in size from small islets to rugged, rocky outcrops. But all are home to a wealth of sea and bird life.

Our adventure began in Penzance where my husband George, the hounds and I joined the Scillonian III, a handsome passenger ferry that makes the return trip from the mainland once a day.

We’d been told to try and bag a spot on the top deck to take in the spectacular views as the ship passes the Cornish coastline and heads out into the Atlantic.

Wally and Sonny, the whippets, soon made themselves at home by indulging in one of their favourite pastimes, sleeping, while George and I took in the dramatic scenery and tried to name a few of the sea birds that wheeled overhead.

The boat trip takes a leisurely two and a half hours to travel the 28 miles, and when we arrived at the little quay in St Mary’s harbour 

it felt like we had journeyed back in time. It was bustling with life – boats unloading their cargoes, fisherman mending nets and a distinct lack of cars and lorries. Our luggage was collected from the ship and wheeled up the quay to our hotel by a helpful porter.

We’d plumped for the dog-friendly Tregarthens, which was built in 1849 and is situated a two-minute walk from the quay.

The hotel has the most gorgeous panoramic views of some of the other islands – Tresco, Bryher, Samson and St Martin’s. We had called ahead and the hotel had organised beds, bowls, food and toys for our lucky dogs. This was arranged through a local animal charity, who ask for a donation for the service.

There are more than 30 miles of nature trails and walks on St Mary’s alone, so our dogs were never short of wonderful places to stretch their legs.

Our first walk took us along the cliff path from our hotel to the Garrison and Star Castle.

The walls of the castle take the shape of an eight-pointed star. Built in 1593, it is now a boutique hotel. From there we walked to the church in the historic Old Town.

The churchyard is the final resting place for the crews of the many ships that have been lost in the treacherous waters around the Isles, some dating back to the 12th century.

Every time you turn a corner there is another amazing view to enjoy, from rugged, gorse-covered cliff tops and hidden coves to white sandy beaches with impossibly blue waters.

Each of the islands has its own distinct character. We took a boat trip to explore Tresco, famed for its beautiful sub-tropical Abbey Garden. The diversity of plants there is incredible and the Valhalla Museum houses a collection of shipwrecked figureheads, some dating back to the 16th century. 

For dinner we enjoyed a feast of fresh fish and locally caught crab at The New Inn (all the pubs and restaurants on the isles are dog friendly).

The evening voyage back to St Mary’s was unforgettable – we sat in the bow of the little wooden boat and watched the sun dip into the sea as the wide sky filled with a million stars. 

Victoria Gray

The Scillonian III (01736 334220,  islesofscilly-travel.co.uk) sails from Penzance harbour to St Mary’s from March to November, up to seven days a week. 

Prices start at £86 return. Prices for the Tregarthens Hotel (01720 422540, tregarthens-hotel.co.uk1) in St Mary’s start at £120 per person per night for bed and breakfast.

dogS MAG

Trudie and Milton enjoy the quirky but welcoming charms of The Ship Inn

Rye, East Sussex

Built in 1592 and first used as a smugglers’ warehouse, The Ship Inn is a relaxed pub with an eclectic style and offers a great hangout for humans and hounds alike. Modern pop art and felt animal heads don the walls, and trinkets and treasures sit among battered leather sofas and industrial light fittings.

No one goes hungry – there is an excellent menu with good vegetarian options and plenty of sausages to treat Milton, our whippet. 

Sampling a few local ales, Harveys Sussex Best Bitter came out on top.

Top of the cocktails is Nettle Gimlet, which includes Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin. 

Ten quirky bedrooms sit among the ancient timbers of The Ship Inn. 

Each is unique but all come with en-suite bathrooms and feature wacky wallpapers, painted floors and well-chosen furnishings. Just watch out for those low beams! 

After a wonderful cooked breakfast (and more sausage for Milton), we ventured out on to the cobbled streets. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by this small town’s incredible beauty.

Small Tudor houses with tiny doors, leaded windows and well-kept gardens line cobbled streets leading up to the Ypres Tower.

It’s the surviving part of Rye Castle and the perfect spot for views. 

If you like antiques, you’ll find lots of shops full of wonderful treasures. Unlike many towns, Rye isn’t littered with the usual corporate coffee houses and we stopped off at Fletchers House, a tea room dating back to 1932. Dogs can sit in the front section while you tuck into some delicious scones with all the trimmings. 

If you love the great outdoors and long walks on the beach, Camber Sands is a must – a vast expanse of gorgeous sand trimmed in dunes.

It’s the perfect place to let your dog charge around and let off some steam. You’ll meet plenty of other dogs and dog lovers, so don’t expect it to be a quick visit.

In need of refreshment, we popped into The Standard Inn, a charming, dog-friendly pub with great fish and chips, finishing the evening in Olde Worlde Wines, a small candle-lit wine shop filled with locals laughing and dancing. Again, Milton was warmly welcomed.

Rye is so dog and person friendly, we’ll definitely be back. 

Trudie le Marie

Rooms at The Ship Inn (01797 222233, sawdays.co.uk2) start at £110 per night for a double room, including breakfast.

dogS MAG

Anna and Cleo enjoy the charming grounds at Woolley Grange

Woolley Grange, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

Woolley Grange, an impressive 17th-century stone manor house, is the perfect countryside retreat for you and your canine companion. It’s instantly welcoming, with an outdoor pool to enjoy in the warmer months and cosy log fires to snuggle up to in winter. 

Located on the outskirts of Bath, Woolley Grange has 25 bedrooms, ranging from standard dog-friendly doubles to family suites. Larger families should book the spacious Hayloft, with two bedrooms and a lounge area, sleeping up to two adults and five children. 

When we arrived at our suite, our dog Cleo was given the VID (Very Important Dog) treatment with a welcome box just for her.

It contained a variety of tasty treats, tug toys, a doggie neckerchief, a portable water bowl and even a shampoo for mucky pups – everything Cleo would need for her weekend away, and a very thoughtful touch. 

The Woolley Grange staff are on hand with everything you need for your stay, including details on local walks. Set in rolling hills on the edge of the Cotswolds, you can walk straight out from the hotel along the picturesque country lanes.

We took a stroll into nearby Bradford-on-Avon, a beautiful historic town with pretty shops and cosy cafés. A visit to the local pet shop Fetch is a must, which stocks all the essentials for your four-legged friend plus quirky presents for pet-mad pals.

Take a scenic walk back alongside the canal that loops around the town.

Adjacent to the hotel’s beautiful walled garden (home to a chicken and duck) is the spa, a sanctuary of tranquillity with a range of treatments that offer a guaranteed slice of R&R. 

The heated indoor pool has a large window overlooking the garden and, unlike a lot of spas, the swimming pool is child-friendly. If you want time to unwind away from the kids, there’s the Ofsted-registered Woolley Bears Den, where you can send the little ones to burn off some energy.

A baby-sitter can be organised for the children or your pooch while you head over to the restaurant for mouth-watering Chateaubriand steak served with home-grown vegetables from the kitchen garden. When the harvest is good, guests can buy Woolley Grange’s fruit and vegetables – the perfect reminder of your country weekend away with all the family.

Anna Woodham

Woolley Grange is part of Luxury Family Hotels (luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk3).

Book through PetsPyjamas Pet Concierge (020 3642 3164, petspyjamas.com/travel4) for this exclusive offer: two nights with breakfast and a two-course dinner on one night from £299 plus your dog stays free.

Pet beds and bowls will be provided, plus receive a free PetsPyjamas personalised pet travel treat box when you book through this service.

Related articles

References

  1. ^ tregarthens-hotel.co.uk (www.tregarthens-hotel.co.uk)
  2. ^ sawdays.co.uk (www.sawdays.co.uk)
  3. ^ luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk (www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk)
  4. ^ petspyjamas.com/travel (www.express.co.uk)
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Pack your wags: The best dog-friendly holiday destinations

Woman with dogS MAG

Victoria and her dogs loved stretching their legs on the Scillies’ stunning beaches

Isles of Scilly

Turquoise seas, exotic sub-tropical gardens and white sandy beaches are normally associated with long-haul flights, but when your travelling companions are of the four-legged variety, this isn’t really an option.

The Isles of Scilly promise all these things and more, and are only a stone’s throw from the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula. The Scillies form an archipelago – five of the islands are inhabited and the other 135 or so range in size from small islets to rugged, rocky outcrops. But all are home to a wealth of sea and bird life.

Our adventure began in Penzance where my husband George, the hounds and I joined the Scillonian III, a handsome passenger ferry that makes the return trip from the mainland once a day.

We’d been told to try and bag a spot on the top deck to take in the spectacular views as the ship passes the Cornish coastline and heads out into the Atlantic.

Wally and Sonny, the whippets, soon made themselves at home by indulging in one of their favourite pastimes, sleeping, while George and I took in the dramatic scenery and tried to name a few of the sea birds that wheeled overhead.

The boat trip takes a leisurely two and a half hours to travel the 28 miles, and when we arrived at the little quay in St Mary’s harbour 

it felt like we had journeyed back in time. It was bustling with life – boats unloading their cargoes, fisherman mending nets and a distinct lack of cars and lorries. Our luggage was collected from the ship and wheeled up the quay to our hotel by a helpful porter.

We’d plumped for the dog-friendly Tregarthens, which was built in 1849 and is situated a two-minute walk from the quay.

The hotel has the most gorgeous panoramic views of some of the other islands – Tresco, Bryher, Samson and St Martin’s. We had called ahead and the hotel had organised beds, bowls, food and toys for our lucky dogs. This was arranged through a local animal charity, who ask for a donation for the service.

There are more than 30 miles of nature trails and walks on St Mary’s alone, so our dogs were never short of wonderful places to stretch their legs.

Our first walk took us along the cliff path from our hotel to the Garrison and Star Castle.

The walls of the castle take the shape of an eight-pointed star. Built in 1593, it is now a boutique hotel. From there we walked to the church in the historic Old Town.

The churchyard is the final resting place for the crews of the many ships that have been lost in the treacherous waters around the Isles, some dating back to the 12th century.

Every time you turn a corner there is another amazing view to enjoy, from rugged, gorse-covered cliff tops and hidden coves to white sandy beaches with impossibly blue waters.

Each of the islands has its own distinct character. We took a boat trip to explore Tresco, famed for its beautiful sub-tropical Abbey Garden. The diversity of plants there is incredible and the Valhalla Museum houses a collection of shipwrecked figureheads, some dating back to the 16th century. 

For dinner we enjoyed a feast of fresh fish and locally caught crab at The New Inn (all the pubs and restaurants on the isles are dog friendly).

The evening voyage back to St Mary’s was unforgettable – we sat in the bow of the little wooden boat and watched the sun dip into the sea as the wide sky filled with a million stars. 

Victoria Gray

The Scillonian III (01736 334220,  islesofscilly-travel.co.uk) sails from Penzance harbour to St Mary’s from March to November, up to seven days a week. 

Prices start at £86 return. Prices for the Tregarthens Hotel (01720 422540, tregarthens-hotel.co.uk1) in St Mary’s start at £120 per person per night for bed and breakfast.

dogS MAG

Trudie and Milton enjoy the quirky but welcoming charms of The Ship Inn

Rye, East Sussex

Built in 1592 and first used as a smugglers’ warehouse, The Ship Inn is a relaxed pub with an eclectic style and offers a great hangout for humans and hounds alike. Modern pop art and felt animal heads don the walls, and trinkets and treasures sit among battered leather sofas and industrial light fittings.

No one goes hungry – there is an excellent menu with good vegetarian options and plenty of sausages to treat Milton, our whippet. 

Sampling a few local ales, Harveys Sussex Best Bitter came out on top.

Top of the cocktails is Nettle Gimlet, which includes Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin. 

Ten quirky bedrooms sit among the ancient timbers of The Ship Inn. 

Each is unique but all come with en-suite bathrooms and feature wacky wallpapers, painted floors and well-chosen furnishings. Just watch out for those low beams! 

After a wonderful cooked breakfast (and more sausage for Milton), we ventured out on to the cobbled streets. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by this small town’s incredible beauty.

Small Tudor houses with tiny doors, leaded windows and well-kept gardens line cobbled streets leading up to the Ypres Tower.

It’s the surviving part of Rye Castle and the perfect spot for views. 

If you like antiques, you’ll find lots of shops full of wonderful treasures. Unlike many towns, Rye isn’t littered with the usual corporate coffee houses and we stopped off at Fletchers House, a tea room dating back to 1932. Dogs can sit in the front section while you tuck into some delicious scones with all the trimmings. 

If you love the great outdoors and long walks on the beach, Camber Sands is a must – a vast expanse of gorgeous sand trimmed in dunes.

It’s the perfect place to let your dog charge around and let off some steam. You’ll meet plenty of other dogs and dog lovers, so don’t expect it to be a quick visit.

In need of refreshment, we popped into The Standard Inn, a charming, dog-friendly pub with great fish and chips, finishing the evening in Olde Worlde Wines, a small candle-lit wine shop filled with locals laughing and dancing. Again, Milton was warmly welcomed.

Rye is so dog and person friendly, we’ll definitely be back. 

Trudie le Marie

Rooms at The Ship Inn (01797 222233, sawdays.co.uk2) start at £110 per night for a double room, including breakfast.

dogS MAG

Anna and Cleo enjoy the charming grounds at Woolley Grange

Woolley Grange, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire

Woolley Grange, an impressive 17th-century stone manor house, is the perfect countryside retreat for you and your canine companion. It’s instantly welcoming, with an outdoor pool to enjoy in the warmer months and cosy log fires to snuggle up to in winter. 

Located on the outskirts of Bath, Woolley Grange has 25 bedrooms, ranging from standard dog-friendly doubles to family suites. Larger families should book the spacious Hayloft, with two bedrooms and a lounge area, sleeping up to two adults and five children. 

When we arrived at our suite, our dog Cleo was given the VID (Very Important Dog) treatment with a welcome box just for her.

It contained a variety of tasty treats, tug toys, a doggie neckerchief, a portable water bowl and even a shampoo for mucky pups – everything Cleo would need for her weekend away, and a very thoughtful touch. 

The Woolley Grange staff are on hand with everything you need for your stay, including details on local walks. Set in rolling hills on the edge of the Cotswolds, you can walk straight out from the hotel along the picturesque country lanes.

We took a stroll into nearby Bradford-on-Avon, a beautiful historic town with pretty shops and cosy cafés. A visit to the local pet shop Fetch is a must, which stocks all the essentials for your four-legged friend plus quirky presents for pet-mad pals.

Take a scenic walk back alongside the canal that loops around the town.

Adjacent to the hotel’s beautiful walled garden (home to a chicken and duck) is the spa, a sanctuary of tranquillity with a range of treatments that offer a guaranteed slice of R&R. 

The heated indoor pool has a large window overlooking the garden and, unlike a lot of spas, the swimming pool is child-friendly. If you want time to unwind away from the kids, there’s the Ofsted-registered Woolley Bears Den, where you can send the little ones to burn off some energy.

A baby-sitter can be organised for the children or your pooch while you head over to the restaurant for mouth-watering Chateaubriand steak served with home-grown vegetables from the kitchen garden. When the harvest is good, guests can buy Woolley Grange’s fruit and vegetables – the perfect reminder of your country weekend away with all the family.

Anna Woodham

Woolley Grange is part of Luxury Family Hotels (luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk3).

Book through PetsPyjamas Pet Concierge (020 3642 3164, petspyjamas.com/travel4) for this exclusive offer: two nights with breakfast and a two-course dinner on one night from £299 plus your dog stays free.

Pet beds and bowls will be provided, plus receive a free PetsPyjamas personalised pet travel treat box when you book through this service.

Related articles

References

  1. ^ tregarthens-hotel.co.uk (www.tregarthens-hotel.co.uk)
  2. ^ sawdays.co.uk (www.sawdays.co.uk)
  3. ^ luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk (www.luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk)
  4. ^ petspyjamas.com/travel (www.express.co.uk)
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T’Pau’s Carol Decker: ‘I struggled to count the zeros on my first royalty …

Carol Decker found fame in 1987 after T’Pau’s first single Heart and Soul featured in a Pepe Jeans commercial. After a string of hits, the group split in 1998 but later reformed and are back with a new album. Carol, 57, and her husband, Richard, live with children Scarlett and Dylan in Henley-on-Thames.

What was your very first job?

At 15, I was a Saturday girl in John Menzies.

I remember being really intimidated. I’m not good at numbers and back then, the tills didn’t add up so we had to work out customers’ change. I was so afraid of a queue of people huffing, puffing and shuffling from one foot to another while I got my sums wrong, I wanted to burst into tears.

Later I worked in an awful boutique, Fashion Flare, selling cheap clothes where the strip lights flickered and gave me headaches.

I earned £57.50 a week and stuck at it for six months until I cried at the thought of going in. My then partner, Ron Rogers co-founder of T’Pau, had a great job as a BT engineer. If he did half a day’s overtime on Saturday, he earned £60.

That equalled my whole week’s wages in four hours! Thinking back, that job showed me the hideous abyss of a dull life where failure wasn’t an option.

How did your childhood influence your attitude towards money?

I’m a Liverpudlian and we moved to Shropshire when I was seven. My mum was a homemaker and my dad was a supermarket man.

In Liverpool we lived in a horrible council flat in Huyton and it was all a bit grubby.

My dad was generous. We were a Freddie Laker family going on package holidays to Benidorm and Malta and I absolutely loved it. Dad enjoyed money but he didn’t rack up loans and I’m still like that now.

Before I got my career off the ground with T’Pau, for years, I was a skint student/muso/on-the-dole and used to really stretching my budget. I still think someone’s going to take my money away.

Your first single, Heart and Soul, was a huge hit in America. What was overnight fame like?

My dream came true.

By the time I got my record deal I was 28 so it was a long time coming. Suddenly, I had paps camped outside my house trying to get a photo of me popping to the corner shop in my rollers, looking like Fag Ash Lil.

We even had decoys when the band were really popular. Once, we couldn’t get out of the stadium with so many paps and fans, so one of my crew wore a red wig, black leather coat and we piled him into a limo with blacked out windows to look like me.

I had my crazy Andy Warhol 15 minutes!

What impact did China in Your Hand have on your career?

The expectation was incredible. It shot to No  1 and stayed there for five weeks, which was crazy. But then I became aware people expect that success every time and started to feel the pressure. Heart and Soul flopped initially going into the UK charts at 98 and dropped straight out.

Our record company was really p‑‑‑‑‑ off and we were worried that we’d be dropped. Then Pepe Jeans scooped it up for their cinema advert and the American public loved it so it shot straight to No 4 in the Billboard 100 and went up and down the charts for five months.

So did you earn a fortune from Pepe?

We didn’t get any money. There wasn’t any big L’Oréal hair endorsements then apart from Michael Jackson’s Pepsi commercial.

For the rest of us, it was considered a great opportunity to let people hear the song and we were grateful at the time.

Paul Daniels: 'I wasn't even a millionaire when I met Debbie McGee'1

Rick Wakeman: 'David Bowie's advice made me millions'2

But when royalties flooded in, did you live out all your pop star fantasies?

Pretty much. We did well because Ronnie and I wrote all our songs and in the early days, we’d get a cheque with lots of zeros. When I read the first one, I couldn’t believe it: I had to put my finger under the zeros.

It would have paid maybe £200,000.

We bought a huge house in London, a big place in Monmouth set in acres of land, a studio, I treated myself to a sports car and exotic holidays.

Did you learn any tough money lessons?

Yes, we had a manager who took £100,000 of our publishing money and put it as a deposit for a house in the country for himself.

A member of our management team alerted us and we were very naive. We were the victims of a man who I firmly believed was all right to start with, but whose head got turned by vast chunks of money flying in. We fired him instantly and racked up huge lawyers’ bills but had to settle out of court to get anything back.

Do you gig these days out of pleasure or necessity?

I do it out of pleasure now.

My first Rewind arena tour in 2001 with Paul Young, Kim Wilde and Heaven 17 wasn’t so much a financial necessity but I thought, I’ve got nothing left to lose. At our peak T’Pau were selling out arenas so you get used to it and my self-esteem needed to be back on that big stage.

When it was all over, a lot happened. My father died, our record company dropped us and Ronnie wanted to break up after 13 years.

So I lost everything in the space of two years and I was very depressed. Although I had money in the bank and was lucky, I was a rudderless ship.

When I got a phone call from a promoter, suddenly it was big stages and a proper crew again. Not quite like the old days, but a bit like the old days and I needed it.

Do you have a pension plan?

I have a pension and a lot of equity in property.

I’ve never been foolish. When I bought a sports car, I bought an MX5, not a Ferrari. I’m financially comfortable but I don’t have a lavish lifestyle at all.

image

Carol Decker on Loose Women last month (Pic: Rex Features)

Do you have enough money to retire yet?

Possibly and I could certainly downsize when the kids go to college.

We’re not mortgaged up to the eyeballs and, God bless my mum, soon, I’ll be able to pay the mortgage off because her house will be sold.

I’m self-employed, my husband’s self-employed and I’m 58 this year. Being a bit boring, it would be great to be mortgage-free and at least you’ve got a roof over your head if anything goes wrong.

Best and worst financial moves you’ve ever made?

My best move was buying my house in Kentish Town in 1987 for £250,000. We bought a three-storey Victorian town house on Chetwynd Road in a scruffy area, full of old boozers.

But later the area gentrified and when we moved in 2005 we sold it for almost £900,000.

I’ve not made a massive worst move. Recently, though, I caught bronchitis and had to cancel one third of my tour. I had to pay my band, I’d booked hotels upfront for discounted rates and couldn’t get my money back and I had loads of albums and T-shirts made that normally fly out after gigs, so all that got stacked in the garage.

I spent £2,000 on a new mixing desk but only used it 10 times. It’s not a catastrophic amount of money but it was frustrating.

image

And do you invest in stocks and shares?

No, I don’t invest in anything I don’t understand. I’m very cautious and I’ve never had so much money that I can say, “Oh it doesn’t matter if I lose it.”

Any regrets about the way you’ve done business?

Some.

I spent a lot of time in the Nineties feeling sorry for myself and wasted a lot of time. I don’t like change and I did suffer with quite a bit of depression after all the things went wrong. I didn’t dust myself off quickly enough, get writing and back on the horse.

What’s your favourite charity?

Save the Children and DEC, which send emergency aid workers into terrible places.

Then for my mum, who I sadly lost last October, the Salvation Army and Red Cross.

• Debbie McGee: how to bag a bargain in St Tropez3

• John Lydon: 'I've spent £10,000 on iPad apps'4

How do you feel about the Eighties now?

Brilliant! I was young, in a successful rock band, being flown all around the world in private jets, wined and dined and had adoring fans. So I was living the dream.

I still love writing and performing. Pleasure & Pain is the first album that Ronnie and I have written together in 20 years.

Thanks to the Eighties resurgence, I’ve been able to go out on my own tours again. It’s a bit more modest. I play theatres and smaller venues and have my own record label, Gnatfish Records.

Ronnie and I are back together creatively, our album’s had amazing reviews and I’m really proud.

It’s great to have something new to talk about but I wouldn’t have that if I didn’t give a nod to the old hits.

T’Pau’s new album, 'Pleasure & Pain’, is out now.

For tour dates, visit tpau.co.uk or tweet Carol at @caroldecker56

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The face of fertility: why do men find women who are near ovulation more …

Humans are obviously different. We don’t make a show of how fertile we are. But does this mean that women have evolved to conceal ovulation?

Women are most fertile during the late follicular phase of their menstrual cycle, which starts about a week after their period begins and ends a week later with ovulation.

At this time, women experience subtle changes in their psychology, behaviour, and physiology that are akin to the changes we see in non-human primates.

Female Pygmy Chimpanzee in heat quadrupedal knuckle walking You may have heard of Geoffrey Miller’s infamous lap-dancing study1 from 2007. Miller asked professional exotic dancers to keep a record of their nightly tip earnings for two months. The women also reported when their periods began and ended, so Miller could calculate when they were most fertile.

He found that the dancers received about US$67 (£42) per hour when they were near ovulation, but only US$52 (£33) at less fertile times of the month (and US$37 (£23) during their periods).

This suggests that women are sufficiently more attractive at peak fertility to persuade men to part with their hard-earned cash. But why?

We don’t know for sure but it was probably a mix of signals. Research has shown that as ovulation approaches, women’s voices rise in pitch2, their body odour becomes more sexually attractive3, and they wear more revealing clothing4.

The face of fertility

There is also some evidence5 that women’s faces are more attractive to both men and women near ovulation.

The attractiveness effect is weaker when the women’s clothing and hair are obscured in the photograph. So clothing and hair are clearly important, but they’re not everything.

My research collaborators and I wondered whether womens' faces might be changing colour across the month. This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

Women’s attractiveness to men doesn’t vary6 over the cycle7 if the women are wearing make-up, which implies that make-up conceals natural changes in skin appearance. And other primates, such as rhesus and Japanese macaques and mandrills, develop a redder face when they’re most fertile.

Japanese Macaques bathing in hot springs near Nagano, Japan Perhaps our own species experiences a similar – if less noticeable – change in facial redness. This could certainly explain the attractiveness effect: studies have found8 men rate women with redder faces more attractive.

To find out, we photographed 22 young women volunteers on an average of 13 occasions and monitored where they were in their cycles, using a camera that replicated the images seen by the human eye.

We asked them to avoid make-up and wear a black hairdressers’ smock so that the colour of their clothes wouldn’t be reflected onto their face (women are more likely9 to wear red or pink clothes when they’re fertile). Then we used a computer program to cut out patches of skin from the cheeks on each photograph.

We found women’s faces did change in redness over the cycle but not to a degree that could be seen by the human eye and therefore could not be detected by men, even unconsciously. Plus women are much more fertile just before ovulation than just after, but the redness of their faces at those two times was almost identical.

It is therefore pretty doubtful that facial skin colour is responsible for the effect of the menstrual cycle on women’s attractiveness to men.

If our species ever advertised our fertility with noticeable changes in facial colour, we don’t any more.

Looking for more

It’s plausible that there are more obvious fluctuations in facial skin colour than those we detected. After all, we did only look at a small area of the cheek. Perhaps womens' lips becomes especially red at peak fertility, even without the help of lipstick (women wear more make-up10 near ovulation).

Some indicators of women’s fertility are stronger when women are more stimulated.

Straight women are more flirtatious when fertile, but only in the presence of men they find attractive11. Men find dilated pupils attractive in a woman, and heterosexual womens' pupils increase in diameter during the fertile phase, but only in response to photographs of their boyfriends.

Whatever is going on, women shouldn’t worry that they’re advertising their fertility status to men by way of a flushed red face. The changes in redness are related to cycle phase, but not to fertility or risk of conception.

Read more:
Evidence shows fertility declines in men as they get older too
Psychology of flirtation: how to know when someone's into you
Why sex is better in my late forties121314
The Conversation

Robert Burriss15 is Research fellow in Psychology at Northumbria University, Newcastle16.

This article was originally published on The Conversation17.

Read the original article18.

References

  1. ^ lap-dancing study (bit.ly)
  2. ^ rise in pitch (bit.ly)
  3. ^ more sexually attractive (beheco.oxfordjournals.org)
  4. ^ more revealing clothing (bit.ly)
  5. ^ some evidence (bit.ly)
  6. ^ doesn’t vary (bit.ly)
  7. ^ over the cycle (bit.ly)
  8. ^ studies have found (bit.ly)
  9. ^ more likely (bit.ly)
  10. ^ more make-up (www.independent.co.uk)
  11. ^ men they find attractive (bit.ly)
  12. ^ Evidence shows fertility declines in men as they get older too (www.independent.co.uk)
  13. ^ Psychology of flirtation: how to know when someone's into you (www.independent.co.uk)
  14. ^ Why sex is better in my late forties (www.independent.co.uk)
  15. ^ Robert Burriss (theconversation.com)
  16. ^ Northumbria University, Newcastle (theconversation.com)
  17. ^ The Conversation (theconversation.com)
  18. ^ original article (theconversation.com)
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Barrhead Travel at 40: How the Scottish holiday firm took its own journey from …

Within months of Barrhead Travel opening their first store on the town’s Main Street, there were queues of customers around the block.

Now, 40 years on, holidaymakers continue to flock to the travel agent – on foot, online and on the telephone.

Barrhead Travel’s astonishing success story began with the frustrations of a banker, Bill Munro, who couldn’t find a travel agent open outside working hours.

And, as the company’s managing director, Jacqueline Dobson, explains, he created his own solution to the problem.

“Bill Munro, our chairman and founder, started the company 40 years ago with one other employee in a shop in Barrhead Main Street.

“He couldn't get a travel agent open in the evenings and weekends, so the whole idea came from customers not being able to book at a convenient time.

“He opened that first store. The shop then grew and grew and on Barrhead Main Street we used to have queues out the street on a Saturday and Sunday morning with people waiting to book holidays.

Barrhead Travel celebrate their 40th anniversary

“We used to, and still do, have special deals on at the weekend that couldn't be bought anywhere else.

“Bill was always very entrepreneurial and made sure customers could only book these deals at Barrhead Travel.”

In those days the destinations were mainly Mediterranean, with Scots lining up to book their traditional Spanish holiday.

But after 40 years of continual expansion, the company now offers trips to every corner of the earth, employing 850 staff and with 56 UK outlets.

Jacqueline said: “We service absolutely everywhere. We do Mediterranean holidays, US, South America, Canada, Asia, Australia, New Zealand.

We’re one of the largest flight suppliers with our own airline contracts. Anything you want we can do, including Antarctica.

“Demand for alternative holidays is really up and coming. There are a lot more expeditions because people really want to have experiences and create memories so we want to be able to offer them something different.”

Jacqueline Dobson has been with the company for 14 years

Jacqueline attributes much of the business’s success – they've won Scottish Travel Agent of the Year for the past 12 years, and UK Travel Agent of the Year annually since 2009 – to the specialist knowledge on offer in each of their stores, which now includes specialist cruise services, and a luxury business travel store in Glasgow offering bespoke, personalised trips.

She said: “Bill designs all our shops, he’s very creative.

There are different sections – package holidays, cruise long-haul, a US/Canadian section, and these staff are specialists in their product area. We really believe customers want to speak to specialists so we fully train our staff.

“We send them out to resorts every year because it’s really important that they do experience the destinations so they can pass that information on to the customer.

“We send 10 to 12 staff away at once so they travel together to experience the hotels and the tourist board will take them around so they can experience the sites and attractions too. That way we can make sure that the destination we send customers to is the right one for them.”

Bill sold the business to his daughter, Sharon, in 2007, but the focus of Barrhead Travel remains unchanged.

They believe it’s all about the customer experience – including having space to park.

Jacqueline added: “Sharon bought the business from her father and we opened further stores in Dundee, Stirling, St James’ Centre in Edinburgh and we were operating 10 websites at that point all over the UK. Our first website, in 1999, was the first internet site for a UK travel operator.

Barrhead Travel have been taking customers to exotic locations for 40 years

“In 2008 we opened Dunfermline, East Kilbride and Silverburn, and Newton Mearns. They were in old petrol stations because we wanted to make sure there was customer parking.

Again they have themed areas with specialist staff.

“Our New Generation store in Silverburn is a really inviting, modern placed to be.

We have TV screens where you can watch footage of your destination and it’s just a really relaxing place to book a holiday.”

The company also operate their own charter flight programme from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and now have stores all over Scotland as well as in the North of England and Northern Ireland.

By creating their own intranet site, instantly linking customer preferences to booking information, they have been able stay ahead of the pack.

But beyond the call centres and technology, the far-flung destinations and the cruise trips, a happy holiday often comes down to one core ingredient – memories.

“I think about my last holiday and what we did, being on top of the Empire State building.

The accommodation was important but it’s what you actually do when you're there that really counts,” said Jacqueline.

“We’re here to help create special memories for our customers.”

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