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The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 21st July

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We are running this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

Historically, the daily ‘Bits’ articles were the de facto repository for random comments and questions.  With the news flow being lighter, we are running fewer ‘Bits’ articles.

The comments under this article are where you should post questions about travel and, indeed, anything else on your mind.  At this tricky time, and given that many of you are at home, we want the HfP community to have a place to chat.

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Comments (378)

  • SteveJ says:

    Heading off to Poole to enjoy the weather while it lasts, any general recommendations from fellow staycationers? (we have a car)

    Beaches : plan to hit the sandy shores of Sandbanks/Cranford/Studland

    In terms of attractions someone mentioned the Steam Train from Swanage up to Corfe Castle and we’ll likely head to see Durdle Door. Any other must sees?

    Or great “restaurant/pubs with a view” recommendations?

    • John says:

      I took the train, but I realised that being on the train is not particularly exciting, you want to watch the train from outside

    • Eoc says:

      The Tank Museum at Bovington is great fun if you have kids or are into history.

      • TDS says:

        Monkey World just down the road from Bovington too. You can easily fill a day with just those 2.

        • swifty says:

          monkey world is the best!! Durdle door is basically nothing special and the beach is shingle, plus, the love knots tied around a tree with non biodegradable baby wipes was disgusting. And it isn’t suitable for ppl with mobility issues

    • Al says:

      As a local I’d suggest you make sure you get here early – Poole/Sanbanks/Swanage roads have been shut by the council once capacity is overwhelmed. If you want to try paddle boarding or windsurfing then park in Sandbanks or on Shore Road and hire one – the water is only knee deep and perfect for learning without worrying about falling off.

      Steam train in Swanage is good but doesn’t go far. Corte castle is nice. Durdle Door and Man o War are nice beaches but once again get very busy. Brown sea island is fun if you’ve forgotten what a red squirrel looks like instead of those grey vermin we’ve been left with.

      Rick Stein has a place in Sandbanks or just across the the chain ferry from sanbanks you’ve got another seafood restaurant called Shell Bay that has great views. Over the chain ferry in the isle of Purbeck a nice little place is the Square and Compass – good views with beer and Pasties. The firing range road is great to drive through if you’ve got a car and also affords great views. I’d also really recommend visiting Kimmeridge Bay for fossil hunting and Lulworth Castle.

      Hope that helps

      • SteveJ says:

        This Firing Range Road, can you give me some info on the route? Is it the B3070 worth the drive down, or specifically the road between East Lulworth and Grange Hill (which I see MOD closes off at certain times)?

        • Pauldb says:

          The latter, which as you say can be closed midweek. Great views north and south from the ridge, even better if You park at Tyneham view point and walk west out to Flowers Barrow (and then loop through Tyneham is very active). If it’s closed, West Lulworth is worth a visit, but not really for the B3070 drive.

    • HH says:

      I did a similar trip in May and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d also add Durlston Country Park to your list. Meal-wise, I really enjoyed the Ollerod in Beaminster – by the same chef who ran Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental. It’s an hour’s drive from where you are, but if you take the country roads it’s a beautiful drive.

    • Anna says:

      +1 for Tank Museum and Corfe Castle but anything like that needs to be pre-booked (due to both pandemic and current visitor numbers).
      If you like unusual places there’s an atmospheric site at Knowlton Henge with a ruined Norman church on the site of a prehistoric settlement. There’s some interesting graffiti from soldiers stationed nearby during WW2.
      Dorchester is also a pleasant town with a great little museum if the weather goes off.

      • David says:

        You’ve not need to book Corfe Castle for about 3 weeks, you can just turn up and get in.

        • Anna says:

          That’s good, I thought it would be one of the busier NT properties in the school holidays!

    • SteveJ says:

      Brilliant, thanks all! Are any of the boat trips worth doing? Seen the Poole to Swanage one mentioned on the steam train site.

      Or maybe just get my boat “fix” with the ride to Brownsea Island? What exactly is on Brownsea??

    • Bloomers says:

      The village of Moreton is worth the tiny detour when you visit Durdle Door. It is the resting place of Lawrence of Arabia, has a charming church with unusual windows and The Walled Garden is very pleasant. For a meal with a view, book in to the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club, it’s quite breathtaking. Oh, and for a snack or afternoon tea sit in the courtyard of the NT cafe in Corfe. Enjoy!

      • SteveJ says:

        Great stuff, the hfp hive mind is always worth checking in with!

        • Al says:

          Forgot to add – the best fish and chips are at Chez Fred in Westbourne – I’ve never had a better F&C anywhere else.

        • Al says:

          Forgot to add – what did you end up doing with your day?

      • Jonty says:

        Moreton ford is good for a dip, Lawrence of Arabias house at clouds hill is interesting but small (NT). If the coast is too busy North Dorset is also full of gems.

    • Njb says:

      Moved here in Feb – absolutely love to eat at Shell Bay but hard to get reservations- also Rick Steins.
      Try Ashley Cross for great restaurants/pubs but no views – we like Drgnfly and Maison Sax.
      The Cliff at Canford Cliff has good food and Compton Acres is worth a visit.
      Not many people know about South Deep cafe at Whitecliff.

      Sandbanks traffic is horrendous – come early or late and avoid the weekend if you can!

    • SteveJ says:

      Thanks all, day 1 has consisted of Durdle door (just the walk at the top of the cliff for the viewpoint), lunch at The Castle Inn is West Lulworth which was decent and a lazy afternoon on Canford Beach. Now to find somewhere for dinner, probably head inland to Ashley Cross.

  • Stuart says:

    Catch a boat from Poole Quay or Sandbanks to Brownsea Island.

  • Andrew says:

    What’s the latest consensus on US travel opening up this side of Christmas – seemed last week there were positive noises and now the U.K. has moved up their don’t travel list, so seems we’re going backwards.

    • Neil says:

      Too early to say but its not looking good. I’m hoping to go early next year and I’m not that confident. Thanksgiving at the end of November probably wont help their thinking

      • Andrew says:

        Agree Neil, I can’t see it very likely to happen this year now. Within weeks was the tone last week, and now within years might be more appropriate!

    • IanM says:

      Supposed to be a statement from Biden soon, pressured by Merkel and EU last week.
      To be honest if they stipulate fully vaccinated negative tested travellers I don’t see what their problem is, but the farcical way the clown and his cronies have handled the situation in UK has not helped.

      • Anna says:

        There might be a problem for UK families, though as the US is vaccinating over 12s and we aren’t! Also they don’t seem keen on the AZ vaccine at the moment.

  • YC says:

    Might get some strange looks from hfpers for this – Any recommended ‘no win, no fee’ flight compensation firm to use? Ryanair have told me my flight was 2hr 57min delayed but I’m pretty sure that’s touch down rather than doors opening. Flight was last week and I can’t get the data to prove this so considering one of these companies as a nothing to lose. Should I have any concerns with touching these companies? Besides losing a cut of the compensation

    • Crafty says:

      If you can’t get the data, they won’t be able to either.

    • Richie says:

      Put the details into the euclaim website and see what is suggested.

    • Sukes says:

      If the flight was only last week you should be able to look up if up for free on the FlightAware website. It provides gate departure and gate arrival times in addition to takeoff and landing. If there was a discrepancy with what RYA told you then screenshot and escalate with RYA yourself.

      • YC says:

        Thanks – for some reason this specific flight does not show the gate arrival but the same flight on other dates do!

    • Doug M says:

      If you specify the date and flight number someone can try to look it up for you.

      • YC says:

        It is FR9814 scheduled July 16 STN-BCN. Appreciate if anyone can see the gate arrival time

        • Richie says:

          Flightradar advises landed 02:43.

        • Richie says:

          It appears the inbound aircraft from BCN was diverted to LGW for some reason, snd then the aircraft positioned LGW to STN to operate your STN-BCN flight.

        • kitten says:

          ask on flyertalk, someone with access to check. not sure how long anyone with a subscription to expertflyer can see it for and the reason for delay but may be other tools

  • David says:

    You’ve not needed to book Corfe Castle for about 3 weeks, you can just turn up and get in.

  • Blindman says:

    You mentioned yesterday (IIRC) that you could get the NHS App to ping you?

    I do not need 10 days off work (retired) but know someone who needs a solution to a re-schedule issue.

    Care to share how to get the NHS App to ping you?


    • Pablo says:

      Tick all 3 boxes with symptoms and it will go red and start the 10 day countdown. Delete and reinstall to revert.

      • SteveJ says:

        JDB will be along soon

        • Anna says:

          To be fair, if someone was creating a false requirement to self-isolate for the purpose of having time off work which they were still getting paid for, they would be straying into criminal fraud territory! Not enough detail here though to determine whether this is the case.

          • Blindman says:

            That is not the case here.

          • Rob says:

            But this is a hugely popular stunt it seems and impossible to prove.

          • The Savage Squirrel says:

            My staff pushed me very hard for full pay (rather than SSP) if they were isolating from Covid. Best decision I ever made was sticking to no….

      • Blindman says:


        I’ll pass that on.

    • Andrew says:

      What a strange world we live in.

    • M says:

      I sincerely hope you’re trolling…

      Imagine if one other person (or two, or five) is pinged because of this and have their plans ruined?

      • Blindman says:

        Getting pinged by the App is “Advisory” and not LEGAL to self Isolate.

        As the Minister said Basically use COMMON SENSE” about self isolation.

        Unfortunately in short supply .

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Yes but people will decide they don’t want to risk it etc and self isolate based upon a fake ping.

      • Jimmy says:

        You only get pinged if the person has a confirmed positive test. Putting in symptoms doesn’t do anything to others.

  • berneslai says:

    I’m looking to book an open jaw journey (LHR->SFO, LAX->LHR) using Avios. Is there any way of not getting hammered for taxes/charges on the return leg?

    • Matt says:

      Book it all as one booking, not two singles. If you’re booking at 355 days then phone up to add the return flight to the booking.

    • Mark says:

      call up and tell them you want an open jaw, they’ll be the normal usa return taxes around £600 pp

  • Manya says:

    Hoping to be in Mexico City and cancun next week.

    Travelling with wife and two young kids. Any recommendations of 5* hotels in Mexico City to stay at? Thinking of st Regis or Sofitel which are around £250 a night. For Cancun I think we are set with Moon Palace.

    Any other hints and tips also welcome!

    • JDB says:

      The Four Seasons is particularly good in Mexico City, and probably the best in the city, an elegant building around a huge courtyard, so also very welcome outside space. Even the lowest cat rooms are good. It is also one of the cheaper FS hotels although you have left if rather late! Rooms were at $250, but looks rather full now.

    • Jason says:

      Hi I stayed with my wife in the St Regis a few weeks ago in Mexico City and would thoroughly recommend it. Nice hotel, Excellent customer service and a great safe position in the city. Located in a Nice area to walk and take in the sights that the city has to offer!

    • Brucey says:

      Concur with Jason on the St. Regis. Had a wonderful stay there. Rooms excellent and staff very attentive. The breakfast was also great so if you status and can get this as a perk definitely do!

      That being said, I think the area is a slightly odd one. If you’re hoping to be right in the middle of the action have a look at hotels around the Polenco/Condeza area. There’s two Marriott if I recall: Condeza DF and The W around there. If you’re set on the St. Regis, it no great shakes; Ubers are basically free in CDMX so you’ll get around no problem (other than the traffic). Get some restaurant bookings in advance. My list would be Pujol, Quintonil and Maximo Bistrot.

      I really loved my week in CDMX so hope you have a fantastic time!

    • JDB says:

      For restaurants, our current favourite is Arango – very good food and cocktails on an airy top floor with great views of Piazza de la República; not too busy at lunchtime.

    • GeorgeJ says:

      The Brick in Roma is a small boutique hotel owned by a wealthy Mexican family and it is excellent if you want a non chain offer. I stayed just before the pandemic struck 18 months ago. It is in a very classy area and surrounded by good restaurants (I used the one in the hotel which was also excellent and alfresco).

      • Heathrow Flyer says:

        Mexico City is all about the neighbourhoods – particularly Roma and La Condesa.

    • Manya says:

      Thanks everyone for your advice. I have gone with the St Regis. 3 nights averaged out to £288 but FHR also had an additional $250 F&B credit on top of the standard $100 which swung it for me over the Four Seasons which is probably a bit too refined for me with my two young kids in tow.

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