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Rover by name, rover by nature: 40% of dog owners opt for UK holiday so canine companions don’t miss out

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white and black short coat puppy on black window car

New research from Co-op Insurance has revealed that almost 40% of dog owners would prefer to holiday in the UK with their beloved four-legged friend, rather than go abroad and be forced to leave them behind.

A whopping four in ten stated that it’s so ‘imperative’ that pup can join in the fun, that they’re not entertaining the idea of jetting off to foreign climes, instead opting to drive to British holiday hotspots such as Cornwall, the Lake District and Scotland.

The figures – which offer further proof that the UK continues to be a nation of animal lovers – means that up to 4.8 million pooches could be setting off to popular holiday destinations with their humans this year.

However, Co-op Insurance chiefs are warning pet owners to make sure they’re staycation-savvy.

When it comes to bringing the family hound on holiday, people risk breaching the Highway Code if they drive with an unrestrained pet which may distract the driver. And in the event of an accident, it could actually negate insurance cover as well as resulting in a hefty fine.

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Rule 57 of the Highway Code states that ‘when in a vehicle, make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained’. Whilst there’s no direct penalty for breaking the Highway Code, motorists can still be fined up to £5,000 for careless driving if the police find an unrestrained pet in the car.

And once on holiday, Co-op Insurance is offering a stark reminder to dog owners to be on their guard in unfamiliar holiday surrounds as a dog theft epidemic continues to grip the country. Figures from Dog Lost show that dog theft rocketed 170% in 2020, compared to 2019.

black and white border collie sitting on brown wicker armchair
New figures show almost 40% of dog owners will staycation with their pets (Image: KoolShooters / Pexels.com)

Charles Offord, managing director of Co-op Insurance, says: “We know that many people have welcomed a dog into their home over the past year and it’s understandable that they want their four-legged family members to share in the holiday fun. However, many pet owners don’t realise they’re risking big penalties if they let their dog travel unrestrained in the car with them – not only is it against the law but it could invalidate their insurance, costing policy holders more money if they’re involved in an accident.

“And once people have reached their destination we’d remind them to be on their guard – both owners and their dogs will be in unfamiliar surroundings so they must remain alert if enjoying a drink on the beach or in a beer garden. Dog thieves can be opportunistic and a dog who looks lost is perfect prey.”

Eight top tips for taking a hound on holiday

  1. Check your motor insurance’s own rules for travelling with a dog.
  2. Ensure you have suitable pet restraints for the car – such as a harness or crate so that your dog can travel safely and legally.
  3. Use sunshades on car windows at all times and carry plenty of water for your canine companion. If your vehicle doesn’t have air-con don’t travel on very hot days and never leave your dog alone in the car in hot weather.
  4. Never allow your dog to put its head out of the window, it could lead to a serious injury.
  5. Take a familiar pet blanket or toy along to comfort your dog.
  6. Make sure that your dog has a collar with your name and number engraved on it. Also, check your contact details on the microchip database are up to date.
  7. Remember your dog will be in unfamiliar territory and could get lost more easily, putting it at greater risk from thieves. Don’t tie your dog up outside a shop.
  8. If in rural beauty spots make sure your dog is on the lead and doesn’t stray into farmland where animals are grazing.

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Lifestyle

Swansea ranked in top 10 best places to go camping in the UK

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Swansea is ranked 8th in the best camping hotspots in the UK according to new data – and with the fantastic Gower coast just on the doorstep, it’s no surprise to those that live here!

New research by GO Outdoors has ranked the best spots across the United Kingdom for camping, based on factors like price; pet friendliness and internet access.

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The research also looks at the best places for families, couples and luxury camping, for those who aren’t as keen to pitch a tent!

Cairngorms National Park is the best place to camp in the UK. The area is home to stunning scenery and breathtaking landscapes, and is popular with people of all ages. Wigwam Holidays Glenlivet nestled in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park is the ultimate place to camp in the middle of woodlands, while Glenshee Glamping is an idyllic location with llamas, donkeys and goats.

The average cost of a small tent for two adults is £24 per night – cheaper than most locations on our list. 83% of campsites are also pet friendly and 57% are open all year round, while three quarters have internet access.

With the top four camping hotspots in Scotland, Suffolk is ranked as the best place to camp in the UK, with an overall camping score of 7.08 out of 10. The region reported an average price of £24.50 to camp, while reporting 79% of pet-friendly camping sites – making it a great spot for a family-friendly break. 

Swansea also ranked in the top 10 for luxury camping sites. If your Greatest Day camping involves a glamping pod, private bathroom, electricity and running water, then luxury camping is perfect for you.

Swansea ranked 5th in the UK for ‘Couples Camping’ which looked at the number of peaceful, pet friendly, adults only campsites that are open all year, that have internet access and a hot tub.

It’s not just couples though, Swansea also ranked in the top 10 for family camping too, looking at good value facilities suitable for children, including playgrounds.

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Gardening

Hospital’s flower power proves big success with patients

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A summer of sun and extra flower beds have blossomed into the perfect partnership for patients’ wellbeing at Singleton Hospital.

The recent prolonged sunny spells – the hottest recorded for Wales in 30 years – have provided ideal conditions for hundreds of begonias to bloom.

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This year, the health board has invested in additional raised beds around the hospital to increase the positive impact on the wellbeing of patients, staff and visitors.

Betty Foley has worked at Singleton as a volunteer for over 15 years.

Seeing a large number of patients, staff and visitors during each shift, she has heard a lot of positive patient feedback for the flower features.

She said: “I deal with a large number of patients and visitors coming into Singleton and a lot of them have passed comment on how lovely the flowers look around the hospital.

“A lot arrive through the main reception and they’re welcomed by a really colourful bed of flowers, which can give you a bit of a boost when you’re going into hospital for treatment.

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“I’ve been told countless times recently by patients that they sit in front of the hospital where the benches are and the flowers take their mind off things.

“Small things like that can really make a big difference to your day.”

Christian Berndsen, gardening maintenance, and his team put the bedding plants in at the end of May.

He said: “We’ve used a lot of different types of begonias as they have a variety of bright colours that really catch the eye.

“The flowers have benefited from a great summer of sun.

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Nick Davies, and Christian Berndsen in front of one of the flower beds (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

“I’ve had a lot of comments while we’re around the hospital, which is nice. The intention was to give anyone who uses the hospital a nice, bright collection of flowers to look at around the site.

“Seeing bright flowers such as the begonias can give you a bit of a lift, so it’s been lovely to hear that patients love them as it shows it’s having a positive effect.”

Singleton has also benefited from a wooden sculpture of an oak dragonfly, which features on the Crush Hall roundabout which is situated between the main entrance and the maternity and child health building.

That has been funded by Biophilic Wales and designed by local sculptor Simon Hedger, and adds to a creative corner in the hospital grounds.

Nick Davies, Estates Officer at Singleton Hospital, added: “The flowers and sculpture certainly improves the appearance of the hospital. As we have a lot of patients, visitors and staff coming to this hospital we firmly believe that first impressions are very important.

“If you’re waiting for an appointment or are visiting family or a friend, it’s nice for people to see and offers a little lift. In addition, it’s a natural habitat for small wildlife such as bees and butterflies.

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“Christian and the gardening team have done a great job brightening up areas around the hospital, and we’re really pleased it’s impacted patients in a positive way.”

Lead image: Volunteer Betty Foley, Nick Davies, Estates Officer at Singleton Hospital and Christian Berndsen from gardening maintenance at the Crush Hall roundabout display. (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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Gardening

Rescue your summer garden with our hosepipe ban survival guide

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Can you keep plants alive during a hosepipe ban? Well, yes in fact you can.

We’ve teamed up with Sproutl’s Creative Director, Hollie Newton to share her top tips for gardening in a drought.

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It’s hot, there’s no rain and now hosepipe bans are being introduced around the country.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for the garden as Hollie explains: “This year a scorched lawn is like a badge of honour and we should be wearing that with pride. We’re all doing our bit for the environment by not watering the lawn. The great thing about a lawn is that it will bounce back as soon as it starts raining again.”

Pick your battles

Gardening during drought is all about picking your battles. “Mature trees and shrubs will soldier on through a drought, but it is plants in pots that need a helping hand,” says Hollie.

“You might not be able to keep everything alive, so focus on your big and expensive plants and water these by hand with a watering can.”

Water plants by hand using a watering can

Save water

“Go 1950s style and save as much water from the kitchen as possible,” says Hollie. “You can use the water from boiled spuds – just let it cool down first. Likewise, the water from the washing up bowl is fair game too. As long as you’re just using normal dishwashing liquid, it will be fine to use on the garden. You can also use water from the bath tub, again, as long as you’re just using normal soap, it is fine to use on the garden.”

The only water you shouldn’t use on the garden is water that contains bleach, disinfectants or similar chemicals. You can use water from the kitchen or bathroom on all ornamental garden plants. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) advises not to use this water on edible crops.

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Reuse water from your kitchen in the garden

Re-think your garden

Longer term, Hollie suggests thinking about what sort of plants you grow. “Let’s face it, we’re going to be having more summers like this, with hot, dry weather, so us gardeners need to look for plants that don’t need much water. Plants from the Mediterranean are properly equipped to face this sort of weather, so things like palms, cacti, lavender, rosemary, santolina, ceanothus, cistus and artemisia – to name a few – are all good choices for gardens.”

There’s also a few tricks when it comes to establishing plants, as Hollie explains: “Instead of watering new plants little and often, give them a really good soaking less often. This encourages them to send their roots down deep to find water.”

And lastly Hollie adds: “Don’t cut down trees! It can be tempting to cut down trees when you move into a new place to give more space or sunlight, but trees are so good during a drought with providing much-needed shade – for us and our plants.”

green plant on brown soil
Rethink your garden – what sort of plants will grow in hot dryer weather?

More top tips for gardening in a drought

  • Group pots together and move them to shadier spots to reduce watering needs.
  • Install a water butt to collect rain water.
  • Focus on watering vegetables when in flower for a good harvest.
  • Keep on top of weeding, as weeds will compete with plants for water.
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