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Swansea featured in ‘The best walks inspired by BBC’s Pilgrimage for you to try’

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Inspired to tred the path of ancient pilgrims? Why not follow in the footsteps of ‘The Hanged Man’ on the St Thomas Way in Swansea!

With a new series of Pilgrimage: The Road to the Scottish Isles set to hit screens on BBC 2 this Friday (April 8th 2022 – at 9pm), Big Cottages were inspired to curate a list of pilgrimage style walking routes for those planning to holiday in the UK this year.

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Featuring nine routes across England, Wales and Scotland, that all form sections of paths well trodden by ancient pilgrims in the UK, the guide aims to punctuate great hikes with a little historical and cultural interest.

The guide also includes recommendations for points of interest along the way, as well as places to stop for a bite to eat and something to drink. All of the routes and POIs are handily sign-posted using Google Maps and What3Words to aid walkers with planning and orientation.

The new BBC series will feature seven celebrities of mixed faiths as they follow 1,000 miles in  the footsteps of 6th Century Irish Monk, St Columba, from Donegal to the island of Iona in the Inner Hebrides.

The celebrities are Shazia Mirza, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Monty Panesar, Louisa Clein, Nick Hewer, Scarlett Moffatt & Will Bayley.

The Big Cottages’ guide features shorter and more manageable walks than the one being tackled by the celebs.

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One of the nine featured UK walks follows in the footsteps of St Thomas in Swansea.

Legend has it that William Cragh, otherwise known as the ‘Hanged Man’, was hanged in 1290 but came back to life. After his recovery, he went on pilgrimage to the tomb of St Thomas at Hereford Cathedral, which inspired the St Thomas Way pilgrimage.

The 1.5-mile circular route uncovers the medieval history of the city and explore some of its most famous landmarks including Swansea Castle, St Mary’s Church and the Cross Keys pub.

Matt Fox, CEO of Snaptrip Group, which owns Big Cottages says: “We know that long walks in awe-inspiring locations is a favourite activity of many of our customers and we wanted to enhance that experience for people further.

“As temperatures rise, days get longer and nature bursts back into life after a winter slumber, it’s the perfect opportunity to make time for yourself and loved ones, get out into nature and have fun while retracing the footsteps of many who came before.”

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Lead image: Swansea Castle (Image: Wikimedia / Tiia Monto / Creative Commons)

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Ambitious plans for city’s future unveiled

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Ambitious plans for Swansea have been unveiled by the leader of the council – including further transformation of the city centre.

Building on success stories like the Swansea arena, new schools and play areas and a £750m new deal for the city centre, the city is set to be transformed in the coming years.

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And as Swansea heads into a summer packed with major international sports, music and cultural events, they’re helping set the stage for an optimistic and vibrant future for the city.

Rob Stewart, Leader of the Council, said that plans being set out for the next five years include the transformation of Castle Square Gardens, the rejuvenation of Mumbles and the sweep of Swansea Bay and the delivery of new, exciting visitor attractions.

And he pledged that none of the city’s communities would be left behind thanks to tens of millions of pounds of investment in road improvements, street cleaning and community facilities alongside support for struggling families and the homeless.

Castle Square is due to be transformed in the coming months (Image: Swansea Council)

He said: “Swansea has always been a city of ambition. Now it is a city delivering on our people’s priorities.”

Among the highlights of the city’s ambition for the future include the delivery of a £750m city centre transformation that started with the arena, delivering a city centre community hub and a new role for the former Debenhams store.

Other pledges include making progress on the £1.7bn Blue Eden renewable energy scheme set to include a tidal lagoon, developing a new aquarium and building new hotels in the city centre and near the Swansea.com Stadium.

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The opening an outdoor adventure park on Kilvey Hill in 2025 that would include cable cars, ziplines and luge runs.

Plans for the Skyline adventure park on Kilvey Hill form part of the council’s future vision for the city (Image: Swansea Council)

The council will also build hundreds more energy-efficient council properties, while also upgrading existing homes to help reduce fuel bills.

Highways are set for investment with a £10m boost for road repairs, new PATCH road repair teams being rolled out, more electric vehicle charging points and more walking and cycling routes.

Other commitments for Swansea communities include Cleansing, littering and weeding teams dedicated to every neighbourhood,

Continued support to encourage eligible households to claim the Welsh Government £150 cost of living payment, investment in thousands more trees, our parks and biodiversity with investment also seeing play area upgrades and improved skate facilities.

Swansea Council say they will spend £10m on road repairs in the next year (Image: Swansea Council)

Cllr Stewart said the free bus travel initiative and upgrades for outdoor play areas was helping families make ends meet at a time when every penny counts. At the same time city centre regeneration spearheaded by the council was attracting millions of pounds of private sector investment.

He said: “The cost of living crisis and climate change will be among the biggest challenges any of us will face over the coming years.

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“From food banks to free bus travel, from better homes to better schools, we’ll carry on supporting families and communities who are struggling to get by.

“We’ll continue investing in major projects and community priorities like schools, children’s welfare and adult wellbeing. This combined investment enables resilience and promotes wellbeing. It creates and protects jobs and it makes Swansea a better place to live, work and do business.

“And by investing in green energy, growing our green spaces and welcoming new people, new investment and fresh ideas, we can look forward to building a better future.”

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Llanelli

West Wales car dealership to double in size

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Dafen-based Llanelli Motor Company have broken ground on a new development that will see their forecourt double in size over the coming months.

Led by Managing Director Ian Jonathan, the two-phase project will see the independent car dealership increase the number of used vehicles it has on sale to over 400 by January 2023.

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“It’s certainly an exciting period for the business,” said Ian, “and with the significant changes to the used car market, we felt now was the right time to start the project, which has been in the pipeline for over five years.”

Although the business was potentially looking at 2020 as a start date for the developments, the Coronavirus Pandemic put the brakes on the project.

However, since the easing of lockdown restrictions and the delay in obtaining new vehicles, the used car market has seen an unprecedented spike in demand.

Dafen based Llanelli Motor Company is planning to double in size
The company have broken ground on an expansion that will see over 400 cars on sale by the end of January 2023

“The last 12 months have been exceptionally busy,” continued Ian.

“No sooner are we finalising our 140-point safety check on vehicles before placing them on the forecourt, than they are being purchased within a matter of days”.

With the ability to stock 150 nearly new vehicles of all makes and models at the moment, the 1-acre expansion will increase this to 250 by September before more than doubling it to 400 by the spring of 2023.

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In order to facilitate this growth, the company will also be entering a recruitment phase and looking to employ at least 10 new members of staff across its sales, workshop and admin teams as well as taking on new apprenticeships.

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Pets

Are cats man’s new best friend? Surge in demand throughout lockdown

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Everyone’s heard that dogs are man’s best friend, but what about cats? 

Research from pet insurance comparison experts Quotezone.co.uk, shows that over the last three years, across the pandemic, demand for pets amongst single people was on the rise, particularly cats. 

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Couples with pets have actually been in decline year-on-year, dropping from 70.5% in 2019 to 67% in 2022 for dogs, and from 65% down to 60.6% for couples with cats.

Demand for pets from single people has spiked though, with dogs up from 29% to 33% and the popularity of cats jumping by almost 5%, from 35% in 2019 to 39.4% in 2022.

The cat owners surveyed take very particular care of their pets, with 85% of the cats microchipped – even though it’s not a legal requirement yet. A majority of cat owners in the UK have also gotten their feline friends vaccinated (84%) and neutered (85%), which can help for medical reasons and can even help cat owners save money on pet insurance. 

Top 3 ways to save on cat insurance

  1. Review pets’ lifestyles, indoor versus outdoor – indoor cats are at less risk of theft and injury.
  2. If you have more than one cat, it’s normally cheaper to have a multi-pet policy.
  3. Often fully vaccinated, microchipped/tagged and neutered cats have cheaper premiums.

Greg Wilson, Founder of pet insurance comparison site, Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “It’s great to see a rise in demand for our feline friends, these clever animals are full of affection and personality, we’d just recommend that people do their homework before adopting or purchasing any pet, considering if the breed is a good fit for them and their household and working out estimated costs for care and food beforehand. 

“Bear in mind any upcoming changes in lifestyle such as returning to the office or a more hybrid work/life balance, which can all affect our furry friends.

“Vet bills have the potential to be quite sizable if the animal suffers an accident or is diagnosed with an illness, so shop around and get a good deal on pet insurance, it really is the best way to protect them, safeguard finances and it doesn’t have to be expensive.”

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