Proof that Dominic Cummings has had a positive impact on tourism, why you shouldn’t always get out of your seat at the theatre, and being able to use your mobile abroad without being stung.

Barnard Castle, County Durham

Source: David Head

English Heritage reports larger numbers of visitors to Barnard Castle.

There’s no such thing as bad publicity

Let’s be honest, how many of us had heard of, let alone been to Barnard Castle before it was thrust into the spotlight courtesy of a certain Dominic Cummings? The scandal has even got its own Wikipedia page. It just goes to show that any publicity is good publicity because recent visitor figures released by English Heritage show that 2021 saw the fortress in County Durham enjoy its “best ever” year for tourists, with visitor numbers up 20% from 2019. I’m sure this surge was welcomed by local businesses, from hotels and restaurants, to shops and opticians. In fact, English Heritage venues across the country have enjoyed a huge increase in visitor numbers which is positive news for national treasures, big and small.

If I’m getting up, you’ve earned it

A recent article in The Times concerning standing ovations amused me. The piece discusses how theatre-starved audiences are now more inclined to get out of their seats at a production’s conclusion to clap and cheer, which has not always been the case for us stiff Brits. Indeed, Dustin Hoffman apparently “hissed” that you had to die in this country to get a standing ovation after exiting the stage at the Phoenix Theatre in 1989 in The Merchant of Venice. It’s certainly true that our friends across ‘The Pond’ are more excitable and I recall being one of only two people still on my backside at the conclusion of a Broadway musical my wife and I went to see when in New York. I am quite happy to show my appreciation at the end of a show, but surely just standing up for any old claptrap devalues the whole thing? However, it could be worse; there is another American habit of standing ovations mid-show I gather. That being said, I am usually on my feet at the interval pretty sharpish, but only to beat the queue for the loos and to get a glass of wine.

Jetting off and staying mobile

I’ve been preparing to get my group out of Blighty for a holiday for a while and with the latest relaxation on international travel, the button is going to be firmly pushed. Doing away with pre-departure and post-arrival Covid tests for fully-vaccinated travellers arriving or returning to Britain is wonderful news and one less thing to worry about. Plus, there’s more good news for me, as I won’t be paying for additional mobile phone roaming charges while in Europe.

Tourist using mobile abroad with map

Roaming charges are expected to come in for some mobile providers.

I’m with O2 and was pleased to see that, along with Virgin Mobile, they won’t be reintroducing these scandalous fees like many other networks following on from Brexit. Charges like this are pure profiteering in my view and for something that is now integral to our lives. How would I find where I am going without using the map on my mobile? But I digress – Italy here we come. I cannot wait to enjoy fresh pasta with truffle shavings, accompanied by a bottle of Chianti, washed down with a little Limoncello. I’m not sure why I continue to drink the latter as it tastes like medicine but when in Rome, as the saying goes.

The views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of the publisher.