We can't guarantee the sun, but we can help with ideas for staycations that have a touch of the exotic about them. Although the UK may be geographically small, it is, without a doubt, a varied and beautiful country. Its history and landscape have been shaped and influenced by countries around the world. Discover traces of France, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, or let your imagination take you further afield to Japan, India and even Australia, all without going through passport control.
St Michael's Mount is the smaller and certainly less crowded version of the iconic Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France. Mont-Saint-Michel is one of France's most visited tourist attractions but the Cornish version is almost a well-kept secret, lying on a compact tidal island near the Cornish town of Marazion. A day out on St Michael's Mount includes exploring the castle, enjoying the gorgeous blooms of the botanical garden and taking in panoramic coastal views.
The gardens of Japan are world-famous for their classical beauty and are a great addition to any bucket list. In the meantime though, London's Holland Park offers a good alternative for Britons that’s close to home. The park's Kyoto garden features Japanese maples, stone lanterns, a koi pond and carefully placed rocks. The Fukushima garden is newer and more minimalist in design and was built to commemorate British support after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Visit at any time of the year for a little taste of Japan.
Sydney's Bondi Icebergs Pool may offer one of the most amazing outdoor swims in the world, but Bude Sea Pool in Cornwall is not far behind. And, you don't have to take a long-haul flight to enjoy it. Like its Australian cousin, Bude Sea Pool is sea-facing and part natural and part man-made. In use since the 1930s, the pool is free and open every day of the year - perfect if you want to dip your toe into the wild swimming craze without taking the full plunge.
Take a tour of the Denbies Wine Estate in Surrey and it's easy to imagine you're in the rolling Chianti countryside of Tuscany. Planted only in 1986, its vines are not as long-established as those of the Chianti region but the grapes grown at Denbies produce award-winning sparkling wines. South-facing slopes, a microclimate and chalky soil create the ideal grape-growing conditions. Book a wine tasting tour and sample the dozen or so wines that Denbies produces while enjoying the rustic charms of the Dorking countryside. The estate even has its own hotel and restaurant.
Catching a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights is on many people's wishlist but you don't have to go as far as Norway to see them. Instead, enjoy the magic of the Aurora Borealis from the Isle of Mull, part of Scotland's Inner Hebrides. A prime condition for the appearance of the lights is a lack of light pollution and the further north you go in Scotland, the less there is. Visit in autumn and winter for the best chance of a light show but even if you're not lucky, the Isle of Mull is perfect for hiking and wildlife watching.
At first glance, Brighton is a traditional seaside resort with a promenade, pier, beaches, gift shops and an abundance of cafes. However, take a two-minute walk from the beach and you will find an exquisite taste of the east, in the form of the city's Royal Pavilion. Built by the Prince Regent (the future George IV) in the early 19th century for use as a holiday home, the Royal Pavilion is an ornate example of Indo-Gothic architecture blended with a hint of China. A cast-iron frame was added to an existing house to provide support for the roofline of minarets, domes and pinnacles. Very experimental for its time, the Royal Pavilion today is one of the only instances of such architecture in Europe.
There's nothing quite as relaxing as messing around on a boat especially when you're on the canals of Amsterdam, Venice or Bruges. You can, however, have just as much boating fun closer to home. Just outside London's Paddington Station, the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent's Canal against the pretty backdrop of Little Venice. Cafes, restaurants and hotels line (or are even on) the water while the narrowboats tied up at their moorings are colourfully photogenic. Take a gentle boat trip from here to ZSL London Zoo or bustling Camden Market.