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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Making the most of a sunny summer
Crowded Brighton beach on Tuesday
Crowds have flocked to beaches in seaside resorts such as Brighton
Temperatures may have dropped since Wednesday became England's hottest July day on record, but much of the country has remained bathed in hot sun.

The heatwave has seen crowds flock to beaches, tourist attractions and events like the Open golf championship.

And the start of the summer holidays is expected to see this weekend become one of the year's busiest on the country's roads and at ports and airports.

Hot temperatures are expected to continue through the weekend, but rain is forecast in some parts of England on Saturday.

FEELING HOT

On Wednesday, temperatures topped 35C (95F) in several places in England, with the highest taken at Wisley in Surrey where thermometers peaked at 36.5C (97.7F).

Girls on Great Yarmouth beach
Much of England has experienced official heatwave conditions

Bookmakers Ladbrokes said customers were continuing to place bets on temperatures rising to new record levels, despite the country cooling since Wednesday.

It is offering evens on the temperature topping 100F (37.8C) and 5/1 that it will rocket above the highest ever recorded in Britain - 38.5C (101.3F).

The Met Office said the heatwave risk for 24 hours from 1000 BST on Friday was 100% in London and South East England.

The figure was 95% in the East Midlands and East of England, and 70% in the West Midlands.

OUT IN THE SUN

The sunny weather has helped draw crowds to a number of big events, including the Farnborough Airshow and the Open golf at Hoylake in Merseyside - which both continue throughout the weekend.

Crowds watch the Open golf
The sunny weather has helped attract crowds to the Open Golf

The first day of the golf - Thursday - saw 38,500 spectators at the Royal Liverpool course, while the practice days between Sunday and Wednesday pulled in 51,000 fans.

About 12,000 people a day are using rail services in the area - around 10 times the usual number of passengers.

Several other major events in the North West are also drawing in crowds, including the Royal Horticultural Show at Tatton Park, Cheshire, the latest round of the British Superbikes Championship at Oulton Park, also in Cheshire, and the Royal Lancashire Show at Salesbury Hall, where more than 60,000 visitors are expected between Friday and Sunday.

In the south of England more than 30,000 people are expected to visit the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire on Saturday and Sunday, with the Highways Agency advising that roads in the area are likely to be very busy.

The Ashton Court Festival will attract thousands of music fans to Bristol over the weekend - last year's festival pulled in 100,000 revellers.

COPING WITH THE HEAT

The Eden Project in Cornwall - effectively England's biggest greenhouse - was offering people the chance to escape the heatwave and cool down.

Piglets with carrot ice lolly
Pinky and Perky were given help cooling down - and tasty carrots

Temperature readings on Wednesday, the hottest day of the year so far, showed it was cooler in the Eden Project's Humid Tropics Biome than it was outside - 30C (86F) inside and 31C (87.8F) outside.

Elsewhere in the South West two four-week-old piglets at Pennywell Farm, near Buckfastleigh in Devon, were given ice lollies packed with vegetables to keep them cool.

Similar tactics have been used in zoos across England where animals have been given ice blocks packed with fruit or blood - depending on their eating habits.

HEADING FOR THE BEACH

Sun worshippers have been heading for seaside resorts around the coast with beaches packed with people topping up their tans and swimming in the sea.

Woman at City Beach in London
City Beach - the chance to sit on the sand 30 miles from the coast

Jon Weaver, marketing and events manager for Bournemouth Tourism, said: "It's been extremely busy here, the good weather has brought everybody out.

"It's a great start to the holidays for us, temperatures are matching all the traditional hot spots and people are really getting the befit of Bournemouth with its great sandy beaches."

But it is not only at the seaside that people have been able to make a trip to the beach - they can also do so in London.

A temporary beach has been set up in the capital at Finsbury Square where women in bikinis have mingled with suited workers on their lunch breaks.

The beach is in a car park - about 30 miles (48km) from the nearest seaside resort.

THE GREAT ESCAPE

Despite the hot and sunny conditions across much of England, many people will not be staying to make the most of them, particularly as the school holidays start.

FLYING FAVOURITES
Departures sign at Heathrow Airport
Top 10 destinations from Heathrow Airport
1 New York
2 Paris
3 Dublin
4 Amsterdam
5 Los Angeles
6 Frankfurt
7 Edinburgh
8 Hong Kong
9 Glasgow
10 Chicago
Source: BAA

Heathrow Airport said it was expecting above average passenger numbers this weekend, with 225,000 people expected to fly through the airport on both Saturday and Sunday - compared to the normal daily average of 186,000.

Similar high numbers are expected next weekend, when Friday 28 July is set to see 221,500 passengers use the airport, followed by 219,500 on Saturday 29 July, 225,300 on Sunday 30 July and 216,000 on Monday 31 July.

Gatwick and Stansted are also set to see above average number of passengers, with about 130,000 passengers a day at Gatwick and about 80,000 a day at Stansted.

Between 28 and 31 July, the three airports are expected to see a total of 1,735,200 people flying in or out.




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