вход по аккаунту


The Times Weekend - 10 March 2018

код для вставкиСкачать
Saturday March 10 2018
Mother’s Day Robert Crampton on his mum
Plus What to eat to beat prostate cancer
Starts on
page 25
Britain’s 50 best
holiday houses
You never wash
your jeans
You dou
Amazing Cornish
beach houses
You change yo
towels once a
A windmill for
two in Kent
How filthy are you?
ene test
Take our hygi
Remote cottages
and barns
the times Saturday March 10 2018
2 Body + Soul
Mother’s Day
I loved my mum,
but I did not
especially like her
Robert Crampton reflects on his mother — a tough,
self-made woman — and their complicated relationship
irst things first, I owe a great
deal to my mum — apart
from the obvious debt of her
having brought me into the
world. Genetically, in harness
with my dad, she passed on
some considerable
advantages — good health, a degree of
intelligence. And then in my early years,
she and he conveyed enough of a correct
moral framework to keep me out of
serious trouble. My childhood wasn’t
idyllic, but it was far from unhappy. My
upbringing could have been a bit better,
but it could also have been a lot worse.
Fast-forward 50 years to 2015 and I
became the grateful recipient of further
parental benefit, financial in this case.
Neither of them having started with very
much, my mum and dad ended up
bequeathing my brother and me a
significant amount of money. Not lifechanging money, but not to be sneezed
at either. The peculiarities of the British
property market helped, but our legacy
was mostly earned by our parents’
talent and hard work.
That said, while I hate to quibble,
still less to spoil the party, I’m sorry to
report that I have three big objections to
Mother’s Day. The first is that my mum
is dead. As in, since December 23, 2015,
she hasn’t been here. So as regards
tomorrow’s kerfuffle, I’m not involved.
The second issue is our family
never bothered too much with the
occasion in any case. When I was
growing up in the 1970s, Mother’s
Day was a new invention, a new
invention we weren’t inclined to
embrace. We were northern
Methodist socialists. We consented
to make the appropriate fuss at
Christmas and new year, birthdays
and Guy Fawkes, but as for Mother’ss
Day or Father’s Day or Hallowe’en, let
alone Valentine’s (or, God forbid, thee
Silver Jubilee in 1977 or the royal
wedding in 1981) we stayed away. Not
our thing. To put it mildly.
Although towards the end of my
mum’s life, especially after she was on
her own once my dad had died, my
brother and I belatedly began to observe
the ritual. Why not? No harm done.
Far from it: despite her dismissal of the
event 30 years earlier, when that
Interflora delivery arrived, she was
It gave me pause for thought, actually,
her reaction. Late in the day, at the age
of 48 or whatever I was then, the penny
The idea of
meeting you
agreeing to
disagree, or
was a foreign
language to her
dropped that there isn’t a woman on
Earth who objects to being sent flowers.
Probably not many men either. I wish
I’d realised that sooner. The realisation
informs my view that whatever makes
people happy, within reason, should be
encouraged. On which note, happy
Mother’s Day for tomorrow, one and
all! Seriously. Any excuse for a party, a
celebration, a bunch of flowers — that’s
fine by me.
However . . . I now come to my third
problem — the biggie, frankly — with
this ritual. Which is that while I loved
my mother, purely because she was my
mother, I never felt that she returned
the compliment. The loyalty she showed
towards me as a son was contingent
on the perceived loyalty I had shown
towards her. And the bar for loyalty
was set high: total agreement with
whatever she did or said, that was
basically the deal.
At this time of year, or whenever I
watch a film or a TV series or read a
book in which it’s taken as read that a
son adores his mother, I’m conflicted.
I’d love that cliché to be true, but I’m
afraid it isn’t.
What’s more, while I loved my mum,
and in many ways admired her, I did not
especially like her. She was, to use
Kenneth Clarke’s phrase about Theresa
May, “a bloody difficult woman”. And
while the prime minister has
understandably adopted the
description as a feminist badge of
honour, as regards my mother it
carries more sinister connotations.
She was tough. She was
self-made. She was willing to court
unpopularity in a noble cause. She
was born, the third of four kids, in a
slum in Bermondsey, southeast
London, in January 1933. My grandad
was a cab
c driver, not very lucrative in the
Depression. My grandma took in
washing for other people. The war came.
mum was evacuated, blitzed,
My mu
evacuated again. In the late Forties and
early Fifties, all four children went to
university. Aunt Doris, Uncle John,
Mum, Aunt Isobel. It was quite
remarkable at the time, given their
background and that three of them
were girls. The percentages are
still shameful, but the number of
working-class girls who attended
university in mid-20th-century Britain
verged on negligible. I salute that.
Yet years later, as her son, life was not
easy. If you agreed with everything she
id and
d li
t d to her woes and
stories endlessly and patiently, that was
just about acceptable, although at some
level she despised such kindness as a
form of weakness. If you rebelled in
even a small way, she sulked, got angry,
threw things, stormed out of the room.
The idea of meeting you halfway,
agreeing to disagree, compromising, six
of one and half a dozen of the other,
those classic English fudges, was a
foreign language to her. She saw
discussion or conversation as an
invitation to assert control.
She looked a lot like a peasant woman
straight off the steppes, and although,
despite her impeccable communist
heritage, she wouldn’t have recognised
the quotation, Lenin’s advice to “probe
with a bayonet: if you meet steel, stop; if
you meet mush, then push” would have
made perfect sense to her. She wasn’t
amenable to reason. Give her an inch
and she would give you a kicking.
Both of my grandads died well before I
was born. My mum was 20 when her dad
died; my dad was 21 when his did. I grew
up feeling their loss. On my 19th
birthday, 1983, I got wildly drunk and
became sentimental about never having
known my grandfathers. “You can moan
about it,” I remember my mum saying
icily the next morning, “it was worse
for us.” Which was true. Yet sort of
missed the point.
I could never compete with her
accumulated combined traumas of
impoverishment, bombs, evacuation
and early bereavement. Neither did my
mum ever make the slightest attempt
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Body + Soul 3
Last-minute beauty
gifts for Mother’s Day
Compiled by Natalie Hammond
to put them behind her. She preserved
the difficulties of her early years,
nurtured them, guarded them against
I realised this in 1993. That year,
aged 29, I was sent to Bosnia for work.
The Balkan war was still very much on
and where I had to go involved a
degree of danger. Helmets and body
armour. Blood group chalked on your
boots in case you got hit. Shot and
shell zipping around in close proximity
— that sort of caper. Shortly after
returning safely home, your heroic
correspondent made the traditional
trip up north for Christmas.
My mother could not have been less
interested in my experience. My war
stories got about 30 seconds’ airtime
before she brutally wrenched the
conversation around towards the
latest machinations of the
environmental sub-committee of
Humberside county council.
I have to say I thought that was weird.
I still do.
I confess I still don’t truly understand
the woman. I’ve spoken to my surviving
aunt about this at length, and she’s as
mystified as I am. Specifically, I don’t
understand my mother’s conception of
what it was to be a mother. All I can
think is that she didn’t either. She
veered — rampaged might be a better
word — between being aggressively
(sometimes mortifyingly) boastful about
her sons and a strange emotional
detachment, verging on indifference,
verging on contempt.
I don’t write that lightly. As I say, she
was in many ways an admirable woman.
The tipping point for me came, as I
suppose it does for many men in a
Robert Crampton, far left,
and above with his
mother in 1987. Left: with
his wife, Nicola, and his
mother in the late 1990s
Whenever I
watch a film or
read a book in
which it’s taken
as read that a
son adores his
mother, I’m
similar position, when I was forced to
choose between my wife and my mother.
Nicola and I went to school together.
We were friends from the age of 12. For
a dozen or more years, long before we
got together romantically, Nicola was
a regular guest in our family home.
My mother was a genial hostess — to
Nicola and all my friends. It was one
of her virtues.
During those years my mum never
had a bad word to say about Nicola, and
Nicola never had a bad word to say
about my mum. Quite the opposite.
They both appreciated the other’s
qualities as strong intelligent women.
Once Nicola became my partner,
however, in 1990, my mum started being
horrible to her.
For my 28th birthday, 1992, my mum
and dad bought me a table-tennis table
and Nicola bought me two pedigree
kittens (British blues, Smoke and Flash, I
still miss those beauties every day).
Because we were all in France at the
time, obviously I couldn’t take the
ping-pong table home. Nor could Nicola
deliver the actual cats. So she presented
me with a picture of them — cute
beyond words — instead. When my
mother clocked Nicola’s gift she stormed
out of the house shouting: “I can’t take it
any more!”
I had to have words with her about
that. “If you’re asking me to choose
between you and Nicola,” I said, “I
choose Nicola.” I barely saw my parents
for the next two years.
I thought maybe when we had
children things would improve. No such
luck. It got worse. My mother always
accused her mother, my formidable
grandma Amy, of favouring my uncle
over her and her sisters. I suspect
the accusation was accurate. But
then, decades later, with her own
grandchildren, my mum proceeded
to do the exact same thing.
One day, up in Hull, when our kids,
Sam and Rachel, were maybe five
and three years old, Nicola and I left
them in my parents’ care and went for
a coffee. When we got back, Sam was
in the kitchen with my mum, teetering
on a stool next to a sink overflowing
with bubbles from the washing-up liquid
she had encouraged him to squirt. Fair
play. Nicola and I smiled at this classic
scene of grandparental indulgence.
“So,” one of us asked, “where’s
Rachel?” Pause. “Who?”
We found Rachel alone on the top
floor in my mum’s office, delightedly
examining a pair of scissors.
I know I’m not exactly being loyal
writing this, but I was loyal enough
while she was alive. After my dad died,
I phoned my mum every night for
four and a half years, made the
200-mile trip to see her every three
weeks or so. I didn’t expect any
gratitude, which was lucky, because
I didn’t get any.
So on this Mother’s Day weekend
I reflect that the mutually adoring
parent-child relationship being
celebrated did not match my reality.
But I tried a lot harder than my mother
did to make it true.
Dark Amber &
Ginger Lily Dry
Body Oil
Jo Malone
Mon Guérlain
Florale Eau de
£48, Debenhams
Thameen Carved
Oud Body Lotion
Claus Porto
Voga Acacia
£18, Liberty
Rosie for
£14, Marks &
Aesop Reverence
Hand Balm
£19, Selfridges
Perle de Coco
Body Scrub
£10, & Other
Molton Brown
Body Wash
£20, John Lewis
Neal’s Yard
Pillow Mist
Marks & Spencer
Chanel Le Vernis
in Arancio
£22, John Lewis
Floral Street Wild
Vanilla Orchid
Eau de Parfum
Harvey Nichols
Kaufmann Witch
Hazel Bath
£41, Space NK
3INA The
Chubby Lipstick
in 102
£8, Selfridges
Miller Harris
Rose Silence
bath oil
£46, John Lewis
L’Occitane Classic
Hand Cream Trio
£22, House of
Moroccan Oil
Dry Body Oil
£36, Harvey
Charlotte Tilbury
Beach Stick
Lip to Cheek
£30, John Lewis
Tom Ford Eye
Colour Quad
House of Fraser
Associates Relax
Massage Oil
£42, John Lewis
Ethiopian Honey
Deep Nourishing
£17, The Body Shop
Diptyque Baies
scented candle
£47, John Lewis
Nailberry Nail
Polish in Rouge
£14.50, Selfridges
Byredo Rose
Hand Wash
£38, Space NK
Kiehl’s Lavender
Bath Foam
£32, Debenhams
the times Saturday March 10 2018
4 Body + Soul
Down and dirty How clean
Grubby dishcloths, three-second rules and double-dipping
the sauce spoon. We all think we can get away with being
a bit slovenly, but which of our habits are health hazards?
Fiona Macdonald-Smith investigates
new report from the
Good Housekeeping
Institute says that
many of us don’t really
know how to clean
our houses properly.
So when it comes to
home hygiene, what bad habits can
we get away with — and what
should we never risk? Here’s what the
experts say.
How often do you clean the floor?
You should clean the kitchen floor at
least once a week. Don’t use boiling
water because that renders the antibacterial properties of your cleaner
ineffective. “Use warm or cold water,”
says Verity Mann, head of testing at
the Good Housekeeping Institute.
How often do you wash the bin?
It’s tempting just to give the bin a quick
rinse. But, given the amount of bacteriaharbouring rubbish that can leak down
to the bottom or hit the rim as we use it,
very week,
it should be washed every
says Mann. Spray it with
anti-bacterial cleaner
inside and out,
including the lid and
handle, leave to soak,
then wash it out
with water (if it’s
metal, just spray
it and dry
How often do
you change your
washing-up sponge?
Bacteria love heat, moisture
and something to eat — any tiny
bit of nutrient will do. When you’ve
used a sponge, disinfect it, then
put it somewhere it can dry as quickly
as possible, says Dr Belinda
Stuart-Moonlight, a chartered
environmental-health practitioner.
The bacteria will be killed because of the
lack of moisture. Replace sponges at
least once a week.
Do you turn your chopping board
over instead of washing it?
A study by the University of Arizona
showed that chopping boards can
contain 200 times more faecal bacteria
than a toilet seat. If you have been
preparing ready-to-eat food on the
board, and not raw food, you could
probably turn the board over without
harm. But if there happened to be
bacteria on the board, you risk
contaminating the surface underneath
as well — and vice versa. Salmonella
and campylobacter can survive
for one to four hours on hard
surfaces, Staphylococcus aureus for
several weeks.
Do you take pinches of salt and
pepper directly from the pot?
If you wash hands before cooking,
this is actually a pretty low-risk
practice, Stuart-Moonlight says. “We
do know that pathogens can survive
in ground pepper and spices, but
generally dry powder doesn’t support
bacterial survival particularly well.
And salt is well known for its
antimicrobial, bug-killing properties.”
However, if you’re handling raw
food, wash your hands before delving
into the salt pig — despite the
microbe-killing properties of the
salt, some of the bacteria might
Do you observe the “three-second
rule” when you drop food?
A recent survey found that 67 per cent
of people in the UK believe that food
that has fallen only momentarily on to
the floor is fine to eat. Researchers at
Manchester Metropolitan University
found that it comes down to what is
dropped. Those foods with high salt or
sugar content (processed hams, jams
and biscuits)) are safer to eat
th pick up fewer
because they
bacteri It’s still best not
to ris
risk it with any food.
H often do
yo change your
and tea towel?
Tea towels often
into contact
wi dirty hands
and surfaces, and
bacte on them can
grow overnight.
should be changed every day.
Wiping-up cloths
cloth are an even
more serious matter. Studies have shown
that they are often the dirtiest thing
in the house. Your kitchen sink has
100,000 times more bacteria than your
bathroom sink, and when you leave
your cloth dangling on the side it can
pick up harmful pathogens, which
you then wipe around the surfaces
you are trying to clean. Change your
cloths every day and wash them on
a high temperature.
When did you last clean your oven?
“Whatever the manufacturers say,
there’s no such thing as a self-cleaning
oven,” says Teresa Godbold, a director
of the domestic cleaning agency
Homeclean. While in theory bacteria
will be destroyed by the high
temperatures, the burnt-on food and
grease will reduce its efficiency, so it
will take longer to cook food. This
could be dangerous when roasting,
say, a chicken to time guidelines,
because the meat needs to be completely
cooked. Clean your oven once every
three months.
Do you wipe your hands on your
How bad this is depends on whether you
have been handling raw or ready-to-eat
food. “If you have micro-organisms from
raw produce on your hands and wipe
them on your apron, you can transfer
them on to the surfaces that the apron
then makes contact with,” says StuartMoonlight. You can also transfer them
back on to your hands if you wipe them
again. These micro-organisms include
E. coli, campylobacter and salmonella,
which can cause food poisoning. Wash
hands instead of wiping them and wash
your apron after every use, at 60C.
Do you redip the sauce spoon?
“You’re probably putting some of
your saliva back in the pot with the
spoon,” Dr Lisa Ackerley, a chartered
environmental-health practitioner
(, says. “And that
could contain micro-organisms such as
Staphylococcus aureus.” Food that is
heated over 70C is hot enough to destroy
any bugs. But food at room temperature
is a breeding ground for bacteria. “If
staphylococcus gets into something like
a hollandaise it could start to grow and
produce a toxin that could make you
sick,” she says.
Do you clean your knife block?
If you only ever put clean, disinfected,
dry knives back in the block then there
wouldn’t be a problem. However, putting
a knife back in before it’s completely dry
can trap water and promote the growth
of bacteria. On top of that, “any food
residue will provide nutrient material
for bacteria,” says Stuart-Moonlight.
Although the knife may appear clean,
there may still be microscopic food
particles on it. A knife block should be
cleaned, disinfected and thoroughly
dried at least once a month.
Do you swipe your phone while
Our phones are covered in bacteria. A
study by the London School of Hygiene
& Tropical Medicine found faecal matter
on one in six smartphones tested. But it’s
not just about the potential transfer of
bacteria from your phone via your hands
to the food you are preparing. “There’s
also a risk of bacteria going the other
way,” Ackerley says. “If you were
preparing raw food, you could be putting
bacteria on your phone, like salmonella,
E. coli, campylobacter.” Then those bugs
could transfer to your hands when you
are eating a sandwich, or to your face
the next time you answer a call.
Do you leave food
in the fridge
Sticking some
leftovers in a bowl
and forgetting to
put clingfilm on top may not be as bad as
you think. “The fridge in itself is a cover,”
Stuart-Moonlight says. What you must
do is make sure that the food is cool
before it goes in the fridge. “Fridges are
designed to keep cold food cold, not to
cool things down. If you put hot food in
the fridge you could raise the
temperature of all the food in there
into the danger zone where bugs start to
multiply.” Food should be refrigerated
within two hours, so to cool it quickly
place it in a bowl of cold water.
Do you stroke your pets, then carry
on cooking or eating?
If you do this you may want to think
about where they’ve just been (such as
the litter tray), what else they’ve just
licked and the way in which dogs greet
each other. Their muzzles are full of all
sorts of germs.
How often do you wash your towels?
Towels can spread viruses and bacteria.
The fungi that cause athlete’s foot, for
example, can stay alive for several hours
on a damp towel. Bath towels should be
washed after three uses, at 60C,
hand towels every day. Most
people don’t wash their
hands for the 20 seconds
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Body + Soul 5
are you really? (
Answer these 30 questions
Go on, be honest
How often do you get your duvet
and pillows cleaned?
A new pillow can double its weight
within three years owing to an
accumulation of dust mites and their
waste, while duvets can be home to
live and dead dust mites, skin flakes,
bacteria and fungal spores. “Even if
they look clean and smell clean, you
can’t see the mites and the bacteria,”
Mann says. “You should wash your
duvet every three months, or at least
twice a year. Pillows should be cleaned
every other month.”
Wash synthetic duvets and pillows
at 60C to kill dust mites. Those
filled with feathers need to be
dry-cleaned. Replace pillows
every two to three years, duvets
every five to ten.
Do you ever clean your mobile
phone or your tablet?
One in ten of us takes our phone
or tablet into the bathroom, and
whether we just leave it on the
sink beside us or swipe through
Instagram while going to the loo, it’s a
habit that we should break. Germs in the
bathroom could include anything from
norovirus to salmonella. When
researchers at the London School of
Hygiene & Tropical Medicine swabbed
nearly 400 mobiles recently they found
bacteria on almost all of them. Clean
phones or tablets regularly — microfibre
cloths are good as they are gentle and
have antibacterial properties. But it’s
more important to wash your hands
properly. “They may be heaving with
germs, but it’s the journey of those
germs into your body that you’ve got to
stop,” Ackerley says.
it takes to kill bacteria, so they can
transfer them to the towel after washing.
Face cloths should be washed after use.
Do you clean your loo properly?
Chucking a bit of bleach down your
toilet is not enough. Your toilet needs
a thorough clean with the brush once
a week, and you need to put bleach
around the rim and wipe around the
seat using antibacterial spray every
couple of days. Remember to clean the
handle too, because it also harbours
bacteria. You also need to clean your
loo brush once a week. “Fill your toilet
bowl with bleach and stand the brush
in it for an hour or so,” Mann says.
Always keep the toilet lid closed when
you flush, and store your toothbrush
well away from it, ideally in a cupboard.
With each flush micro-organisms are
ejected three to six feet into the air.
How often do you buy new mascara?
Every time you apply mascara and put
the wand back in the tube you’re
transferring bacteria from your eyes to
the product. Most mascaras should be
thrown out six months after opening.
Stick to this to avoid eye infections.
Have you cleaned your hairbrush?
“Every time you brush your hair, your
hairbrush collects dirt, oil, dead skin
cells, dust and hairstyling product,” says
Anabel Kingsley, a trichologist at Philip
Kingsley. “You’re then putting that back
on clean hair when you next use it.”
Clean your brush once a week. Take out
the hairs, wash it in diluted shampoo and
warm water, rinse it well, then let it dry.
How often do wash your sheets?
Bedding should be washed at least once
a week. A recent study showed we sweat
200ml a night, and bacteria and skin
cells accumulate in there too. Humans
shed half an ounce of skin each week,
and a lot of that will be in bed, which
along with the warm, moist conditions
makes it an ideal breeding ground for
dust mites. The average bed contains
ten million of them and their faeces can
trigger allergic reactions. Wash sheets at
60C because that is the temperature that
kills dust mites, and every morning make
sure you pull the duvet back and open
the window to release moisture.
Do you vacuum behind the bed?
A lot builds up down there: dead skin
cells, bacteria and dust mites. We spend
a lot of time in bed and if you have a
skin complaint or asthma it can be
exacerbated by that dust. Hoover every
six months.
How often do you wash your jeans?
A lot of people don’t wash their jeans
very often, particularly designer ones.
And it’s an urban myth that freezing
them kills the bacteria. How often you
should wash clothes simply depends on
how dirty the item is. Obviously don’t
wear pants, socks or tights twice.
Wash underwear at 60C or with an
antibacterial laundry additive, and
never put it in the same wash as your
tea towels because bacteria from faecal
matter can contaminate the wash,
particularly at lower temperatures.
When do you wash your gym kit?
You may think you didn’t sweat much
that last workout, but bacteria will be
breeding nonetheless. Research has
found that the intricate synthetic
materials in performance clothes that
are designed to wick away sweat and
compress muscles can become coated
with residues that trap sweat, dirt and
bacteria inside their fibres. The
International Antimicrobial Council
found that yoga leggings contained
747,000 bacteria even after five washes.
Folliculitis, a bacterial skin infection,
is common among exercisers, as are
fungal and bacterial foot infections.
Wash your kit after each wear, at 60C, or
use a powder containing oxidative bleach
or an antibacterial laundry additive.
When did you last clean your
Your feet contain the highest
concentration of sweat glands in your
body, and trainers offer the perfect
conditions for bacteria to thrive. Dry
them out between each use, and if you
exercise every day consider getting a
second pair to allow you to alternate.
Always wear socks and wash them on
a high heat and apply products that
destroy fungus and bacteria, such as
Dettol Disinfectant Spray, to the inside
of your trainers.
How do you store your coats?
T important thing is to store
clean, says Will Lankston,
th operations director at Jeeves
o Belgravia, the laundry service.
Moth larvae are attracted to
ssweat and the skin’s natural oils,
sso if you put the coat away in a
nice dark place it’s ideal for them.
Try to store it in a breathable
ggarment cover; the worst thing is
tto store it in a plastic cover.
How clean is your handbag?
Y carry your life in your
db The trouble is, you’re also
carrying around a host of bacteria. One
study found that one in five handbag
handles is home to sufficient bacteria to
pose a risk to human health. That same
study found that the dirtiest item in the
average handbag is hand cream,
followed by lipstick and mascara.
Leather handbags are the most bacteriariddled, apparently, because the texture
of the material provides perfect
conditions for bacteria to grow and
spread. Clean your handbag weekly
inside and out with disinfectant wipes.
Have you ever washed your curtains?
Curtains contain dust and odours, and
their proximity to windows means that
they can be an ideal place for spores and
mould to accumulate. Wash them every
three years, either at home or at a dry
cleaner, depending on the material.
Between washes vacuum curtains once
a week from top to bottom using the
upholstery tool on your vacuum cleaner.
Do you wear your shoes indoors?
In a University of Arizona experiment
researchers found that the outsides of
shoes contain more than 140 times as
much bacteria as the insides, and more
than 90 per cent of bacteria on shoes —
including E. coli and Klebsiella pneumonia
— transferred on to tiled flooring when
worn inside. It’s best to take them off,
Ackerley says.
Have you ever cleaned your light
switches, keyboard or remote control?
You should. These are some of the
dirtiest items in the house. They should
all be cleaned once a week. Crumbs and
traces of food trapped in your keyboard
are an ideal breeding ground for
bacteria, so you need to tip it upside
down and bang it to get them out, then
clean with disinfectant wipes.
Use more wipes for the remote
controls. Clean light switches with
microfibre cloths because you don’t
want liquid on a light switch.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
6 Body + Soul
I wish that I hadn’t
laughed at him in bed
Suzi Godson
sex counsel
I made a joke
in bed about the
impact of the cold
weather on my
boyfriend’s size and he was
hurt by it. I realise now it
was insensitive. Since then
he has been unable to
orgasm. I feel awful,
but asking him to talk
about it seems to make
it worse. Have I ruined
our sex life for ever?
You haven’t ruined your sex life
for ever, but you have definitely
been a bit thoughtless. Men are
peculiarly sensitive about their
private parts and dissatisfaction with
penis size is a surprisingly common
preoccupation. In a 2013 US survey
of 1,047 men aged 18 to 60 Debby
Herbenick, the director of the Centre
for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana
University, found that one man in five
is unhappy with the size of his genitals,
while a smaller UK study by David Veale
at King’s College London in 2014 found
that 30 per cent of male participants
were dissatisfied.
Although you blame your
inconsiderate “joke” for your boyfriend’s
inability to orgasm, there is a strong
possibility that you gave voice to a silent
secret that he has been worrying about
for years, which is why he was not able
to laugh it off. But the fact that he
harbours anxiety about the size of his
penis does not mean that it is small. In
the same way that people with perfectly
normal-shaped bodies can develop a
distorted perception of their size and
shape (body dysmorphic disorder),
men with perfectly normal-sized
penises can become anxious. They
may even develop a condition
known as “small-penis syndrome”,
which means that they worry about
size despite being normal-sized.
We often assume that men are
more psychologically robust than
women when it comes to media
messages about body image, but it
is becoming increasingly apparent that
they are not. The ubiquity of the
muscular male torso practically
bursting out of his underpants in
advertising and magazines is
triggering growing self-scrutiny.
We all need to be tactful when we
make comments about appearance
because one person’s mild insecurity is
another person’s mental-health issue.
You made a joke about him appearing
smaller because of the cold weather.
By doing so, you mocked his
masculinity, and that can have a
disastrous impact on
performance. For some men anxiety
impedes erection altogether. For others
erection is possible, but they fail to
complete. Any form of sexual failure
creates insecurity, and this, in turn,
increases the chance of it happening
again. The man who was so concerned
about the size of his penis that he
couldn’t orgasm is now worried
about both his size and ability
to ejaculate. Once that negative
feedback loop is established it is
difficult to break. Your boyfriend
probably won’t want to talk about
it, but anxiety is a bit like a
balloon, and naming the difficult
issue is the easiest way to stick a
pin in it. Let him know that you
understand why it is happening
and you will immediately take
some of the pressure off him.
When Veale discovered the
extent to which men in the UK
worried about penis size, he
produced a set of guideline
measurements to help doctors to
reassure anxious males. The paper,
which came out in 2015, titled Am I
Normal?, reviewed 17 published
studies that included more than
15,500 men whose penises were
measured using a standardised
procedure. It concluded that the
average flaccid penis is 3.6in long,
while the average erection
measures 5.2in. But really, next
time, for goodness’ sake — keep
jokes out of the bedroom.
Send your queries to
An evening with
Levison Wood
Join us on Wednesday, March 28 for an evening with
best-selling author and explorer Levison Wood. Hear
his incredible stories including his ten-thousand-mile
journey backpacking in the path of his greatest heroes
as told in his new book, Eastern Horizons.
Book tickets today at
Image credit – Simon Buxton C Hodder & Stoughton. This Times+ event is open to UK subscribers only. For full terms and conditions, visit
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Body + Soul 7
What to eat
to beat
whole with the skin on, because the peel is
rich in ursolic acid, a waxy natural chemical that has been shown to help to thwart
the growth of prostate cancer. Last year a
team from the University of Texas tested a
range of plant compounds on laboratory
animals with prostate tumours and found
ursolic acid to be one of the most promising active ingredients. “These nutrients
have potential anti-cancer properties and
are readily available,” wrote the lead
author, Stefano Tiziani. “We only need to
increase concentration beyond levels
found in a healthy diet for an effect on
prostate cancer cells.”
Making changes to your
diet can reduce the risk
significantly. Peta Bee reports
hat can men do
to protect themselves
prostate cancer?
It’s a question that
has arisen again
this week after a
key study revealed that men who take a
test for the disease as a routine precaution
may do themselves more harm than good.
The study, funded by Cancer Research
UK, suggested that the PSA (prostatespecific antigen) blood test offered by GPs
was more likely to detect harmless
tumours than those that were fatal. The
result was that many men ended up taking
unnecessary treatment with significant
side-effects, including impotence and
So what else can men do to ward off a
disease that accounts for 26 per cent of
cancers in men in the UK? The one thing
we do know is that a healthy lifestyle,
including cutting down on alcohol and
improving diet, plays a significant part in
protecting against it. These are the foods
that the experts say carry specific benefits.
Rich in Lycopene
Of all the foods thought to help to ward off
prostate cancer, tomatoes have the strongest reputation. They are rich in lycopene,
an antioxidant that can protect against
DNA and cell damage, and more so when
cooked or heated, because heat helps to
break down the cell walls, increasing the
amount of lycopene released.
The prostate-cancer risk in men who
consume more than ten portions a week of
tomatoes — such as fresh tomatoes, tomato juice and baked beans — was reduced
by 18 per cent, a study at Bristol University found four years ago.
Green tea
Rich in Polyphenols
Twenty per cent of green
tea is consumed in Asian
countries, where prostate-cancer death rates
are among the lowest in
the world. Numerous studies have shown that polyphenol plant compounds in green tea,
called catechins, inhibit cancer-cell
growth, motility and invasion, and stimulate cancer-cell death. Other polyphenols
in green tea, including theaflavins, tannins
and flavonoids, are also powerful antioxidants shown to have diseasefighting capabilities. Most studies suggest three to five
cups a day as optimal and that your intake
needs to be consistent.
Rich in Sulforaphane
Broccoli contains plenty of selenium and
zinc, minerals that can have a powerful
effect in reducing the likelihood of prostate cancer, and it is also rich in a dietary
compound called sulforaphane. Last year
Oregon State University researchers
reported that sulforaphane could play a
crucial role in cell metabolism, preventing
so-called junk DNA from triggering cells
to become malignant.
When scientists at the Institute of Food
Research in Norwich compared the effects
of a 400g serving of broccoli with a 400g
serving of peas in men at risk of developing
prostate cancer a decade ago, they found
greater changes in gene expression among
the broccoli eaters — changes they
said could be associated with lower risk of
the disease.
Rich in Carotenoids
A 2014 study in the European Journal of
Nutrition found men to be 18 per cent less
likely to develop a prostate tumour if their
diets contained lots of carrots. According
to the Japanese team of researchers, there
was a “significantly decreased risk of prostate cancer” among men who ate the vegetable three to five times a week compared with those who consumed carrots once a week
or less. Carrots are rich in carotenoids, but they are also
shown to protect cells
from oxidative damage
and reduce the risk of
Apple (peel)
Rich in Ursolic acid
Apples are best eaten baked or
Why doctors aren’t keen
on screening By Dr Mark Porter
Offering middle-aged men
a one-off PSA screening test
does not save lives, according
to the world’s largest prostate
cancer trial carried out by
Cancer Research UK.
The findings, published this
week, won’t surprise most
doctors. We have long known
that PSA is a flawed tool for
looking for silent cancers of
the prostate and, contrary to
what celebrities with the
disease so often advise,
otherwise healthy men should
not ask their doctor for the
blood test. I know that it
seems counterintuitive, but
here’s why.
PST (prostate-specific
antigen) is a chemical produced
exclusively by the prostate
gland to liquefy semen. Higherthan-normal levels suggest a
problem with the prostate, albeit
not just cancer. It is not very
accurate. Most men with high
readings do not have cancer,
and in a significant minority of
those who do the test comes
back as normal. And even if PSA
does work in your
case, we are still
not very good
at picking out
the minority of
cancers that are
aggressive and
from the majority
that are not,
meaning that too
many men end up
having radical
— surgery or
radiotherapy —
they don’t need.
It is estimated that we have
to treat about 40 men to save
one of their lives. Great if you
are that lucky one, not so clever
if you are one of the other 39
left with side-effects (which can
include incontinence and
erection problems) after
treatment that you might
never have required
had you not gone
looking for trouble.
And last, for most
men with averagegrade tumours (the
most common type)
the latest evidence
shows that it makes little
difference if you treat them
aggressively, or just monitor
the cancer. The death rate
(from prostate cancer) is the
same in both groups, and
reassuringly small at only 1 per
cent after a decade.
My advice? PSA can save
lives, but at too high a human
cost to use as a screening tool,
because it picks up too many
cases that are best left alone.
As such I would never ask my
GP for a test, unless he or she
suggested one (using PSA to
aid diagnosis in symptomatic
men being very different from
screening otherwise-healthy
ones). And until a better test
comes along I suggest you
do the same.
6 Some men are more at
risk of prostate cancer
than others (such as
those with a family
history) — to see if
you may be one
prostatecancerriskcalculator. com
Rich in Lycopene and flavones
Pomegranate juice and extract are rich in
beneficial cancer-inhibiting compounds
such as flavones, lycopene and conjugated
linoleic acid, and they have been linked in
several studies to helping to reduce the risk
of prostate cancer. In 2013 researchers at
the University of California found that
tumour cells treated with pomegranate
juice were less likely to grow. Another trial
by oncologists at Bedford Hospital and
Addenbrooke’s, part of Cambridge
University Hospitals, found that men with
prostate cancer who took a daily capsule
containing essence of pomegranate,
turmeric, green tea and broccoli had blood
PSA (a protein produced by prostate cells)
levels 63 per cent lower than those who
had taken a placebo.
Be aware of the high sugar content of
some pomegranate juices, though.
Rich in Bioactive substances
Three cups of coffee a day may be a good
habit to maintain. Just make sure your
brew is prepared the Italian way. Typical
Italian coffee is made using beans subjected to high pressure, high temperature
(think espresso) and no filters. A study of
7,000 men published in the
International Journal of
Cancer last year
found it to be an
fight prostate
cancer. During the fouryear
drank three or
more cups of
coffee a day were
found to be at a 53 per
cent lower risk than those
who drank less or no coffee. It seemed to
be the bioactive compounds in caffeine
that had the positive effect — when they
tested with decaffeinated coffee they
found no such improvement.
Rich in Zinc, magnesium and
Nuts are known to be rich in omega-3 fatty
acids, linked to reductions in the risk of
heart disease and forms of cancer because
of their anti-inflammatory effects.
However, scientists at the University of
California suggested that it is other compounds in walnuts that make them a
powerful weapon against the disease. In a
laboratory trial published in the Journal of
Medicinal Food they found that animals
fed walnuts and walnut oil exhibited
slowed prostate-cancer growth, but that
those on an omega-fat-only diet did not.
They suspected antioxidant compounds
such as zinc, magnesium and selenium,
which help to destroy damaging free
radicals in the body, were also at play.
Other nuts, including Brazils and
almonds, have also been shown to help.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
8 Body + Soul
Hell-raisers who learnt to live
They met in a Soho bar in the 1990s.
Now Alex James and Marco Pierre White
have joined forces for The Big Feastival.
Michael Odell met them
The Big Feastival
nteel food festival, says Michael Odell
arco Pierre White and
Alex James are ensconced in the lounge
of White’s rustic bolt
hole, the Rudloe Arms
near Bath in Somerset.
Fresh meat is a speciality here and from outside the doomed
honk of geese and the baleful grunt of
his Oxford sandy and black pigs is
audible. But inside, over coffee, the mood
is more upbeat.
“So, this morning, about 2am, I got my
cheese out,” relates the rock-star cheesemaker James, with gap-toothed relish.
“Late-night cheese feast. Gotta be done.”
White, peering over spectacles perched
on the end of his nose, deals solemnly with
matters of the palate. “As of early this
morning my default position that French
cheeses are the best no longer holds true.
Alex’s cheeses are just sensational.”
“Thank you for saying so, Marco,”
says James. “That is high praise, high
praise indeed.”
The pair are prone to luvvie it up, but the
previous night’s meeting was to discuss
plans for this summer’s Big Feastival, the
food/music mash-up that brings together
Michelin-starred chefs with rock and rap
stars at James’s farm in the Cotswolds. This
August Raymond Blanc and Basement
Jaxx will vie for the attention of a 25,000strong crowd. But the star culinary attraction will undoubtedly be White.
The 56-year-old still considers himself
“retired”, having become the youngest
chef to win three Michelin stars, the highest French honour for professional cooking (he was the first British chef to do so
too). In 1999 he handed them back, announcing that he had given the Michelin
judges too much respect and “belittled”
himself. He has since headed a global empire of branded MPW restaurants and has
an established media career (he has been a
regular on MasterChef Australia, New Zealand and South Africa). After three failed
marriages (to a fishmonger, a model and
finally Matilde Conejero, with whom he
has fought an inconclusive £1 million
divorce battle) he has abandoned London
to live alone in the Rudloe Arms, his
restaurant and hotel. He doesn’t cook
here, but insists diners are being welcomed
into his home.
Convincing him to don his chef’s whites
again to hold a cooking masterclass has
not been easy. “A day away from here is a
day wasted,” he says. “I will make a risotto
with radicchio and walnuts enlivened by
Alex’s Blue Monday cheese. I guarantee, if
you pay attention, you will go away with
something sensational to share with your
loved ones.”
In culinary terms, James says, booking
White to make risotto is like getting Led
Zeppelin to play Stairway to Heaven. The
comparison barely moves his friend.
White has never been to a music festival.
He doesn’t own any Blur albums either.
“As far as I am concerned, no one tops
Whitesnake,” he says.
“But I wouldn’t come out of retirement
for anyone else. Very few things excite me
at this stage in my life. I’ve done everything. I’ve eaten everything. Do I need to
spend a day at a music festival? No. But I
help my friends. It’s important to share
one’s knowledge.”
The pair first met in London in the mid1990s at Quo Vadis, the Michelin-starred
restaurant and bar in Soho founded by
White and the Brit Art enfant terrible
Damien Hirst. Both were in their pomp.
And, according to his memoir, James was
in the midst of blowing £1 million on
cocaine and booze as his band Blur swept
all before them.
“No one knew it at the time, but it was
the very start of a food revolution,” says
James. “Quo Vadis was the beginning of
restaurants as theatre. You never knew
who would walk into places like that.”
“Sometimes in entirely unexpected
ways,” adds White, and they both cackle at
the memory of White being thrown out of
the Criterion in Piccadilly because door
staff thought he was a vagrant.
“That’s scandalous!” says James.
“I was blazing a trail,” says White with a
shrug. “You can get into Le Gavroche in
jeans now.”
I wonder if White will be happy to mingle with the Big Feastival’s other culinary
greats, some of whom have Michelin
Alex James and Marco Pierre White
at the Rudloe Arms, near Bath
The Big Feastival takes
place on August 24-26.
Adult weekend tickets
from £149.50,
There is
something just
so sexy about
eating in the
sun with few
clothes on
stars. Will you hang out with the other
chefs, I ask.
“Big fish don’t shoal,” he growls and the
room falls eerily silent. By his own admission White is hard to be friends with. He
demands loyalty. When he left London he
deleted 500 contacts from his phone.
However, the friendship between these
two has endured. White has even got an
Alex James burger on the menu at his restaurants. He has just added his cheeses to
his menu too.
James has no Blur plans at present. His
day job is as an ebullient cheese-maker, TV
personality and family man. White, by
contrast, has found happiness alone, restoring his ivy-clad country pile. James
hits on something when the pair discuss a
Caribbean food tour they did together.
“There is something just so sexy about
eating in the sun with few clothes on,”
James says. “Don’t you think so, Marco?”
“Hmm. For me eating is more romantic
than sexual,” says White.
“Yes, you are quite puritanical these
days,” observes James. “You don’t let loose
easily. You are always busy grafting.”
“Graft is perfect therapy for the misfit,”
he replies. “And I am very much the misfit.
Living in the country is very healing for
me. My mother died when I was very
young [Maria-Rosa Gallina died of a brain
haemorrhage in front of White when he
was six] and I turned to nature then. I grew
up running around Harewood near Leeds
and that saved me. I do the same here. I am
at my happiest alone in nature, walking
and writing.”
He smiles when I mention his ex-girlfriend Emilia Fox, the actress, but he won’t
elaborate. A tabloid recently linked him
with the ballerina Vanessa Fenton, which
he says was hurtful.
“Emilia is a special, special person and
we are very close,” he says. “Vanessa is a
friend. She was giving me advice on my
daughter, who is with the Royal Ballet. Am
I not allowed to have a female friend?”
Apart from his 16-year-old daughter,
Mirabelle, his 24-year-old son, Luciano, is
working at another new Marco Pierre
White hotel, the English Room in Singapore. Meanwhile, Marco Jr, 22, occasionally
works in the Rudloe Arms kitchen.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Body + Soul 9
the good life
“He’s ambidextrous, which is really unusual,” his father says. “He’s a great artist
when it comes to putting food on a plate.”
On the walls behind White’s tousled
head are framed photographs of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles. In the hall
there is White: tousled and sexual in an
apron wielding a cleaver. In another, bare
chested, fag in mouth, holding a shark.
And yet, call White and James
rock’n’roll survivors and only one of them
nods in agreement.
“No,” says White. “I’m neither a hellraiser nor a rock’n’roll chef. That’s a media
But, but, I insist, you are famous for
teaching Madonna to shoot pheasant and
hosting her 40th birthday party; for
marrying a model and splitting up on the
honeymoon; and for charging a City trader
£25 for cooking him a portion of chips.
He tugs hard on another cigarette. “Russell Crowe was a guest here recently. He
understands the full depth of my story.”
Crowe, he says, is writing a screenplay
based on White’s memoir The Devil in
the Kitchen. Crowe will star as the
older White and Ridley Scott will direct.
“I am in the winter of my life,” White says
solemnly. “The film will tell the whole
story. It is the story of a boy losing his
mother at a young age. Russell will play me
as I am now, finding peace in creating a
home, a farm, a meadow . . .”
White spends his weekends fixing up the
hotel and he spends half the day alone in
the meadow writing a new book.
“I don’t go out, I’ve never sent email. I
talk to the children. That’s it. I go back to
London for business and I don’t like it.”
By contrast, James’s weekend is a scrum
of domestic multitasking and currently festival arranging. “I’m competing with every
hard-up aristocrat with a stately home he
doesn’t know what to do with. But I reckon
the Big Feastival is a thing now. There’s a
whole generation of people who are geeks
about music and food at the same time.”
“The more I hear, the more I’m excited
to try it,” White says.
“Good,” James says. “Thousands will
flock to see you, Marco. You invented
modern food, mate. Your place is up there
with the greats.”
Vagus nerve: the new key to
stress relief and good health
f the wellness boom has taught us
anything, it’s that our ancestors,
whose lives were more in tune with
their biology, knew what they were
doing. We’ve borrowed their
paleolithic diet, cribbed their
intermittent fasting methods and
revived their ancient superfoods.
Now the latest health rediscovery is
older than the human race and dates
back to our evolution from amphibians.
Move over, microbiome, it’s all about the
vagus nerve.
This large cranial nerve is part of our
reptilian brain, the most primitive part of
our nervous system. It runs from the
brain stem to the gut, and it could be the
key to treating modern stress-based
conditions such as anxiety and irritable
bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers at
the University of Texas are exploring
how stimulation of the vagus nerve can
help to alleviate symptoms of
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As early as 1921 the German Nobel
prizewinning physiologist Otto Loewi
showed that electrical stimulation of
the vagus nerve slowed the heart rate,
activating the relaxation response. He
also found that it triggered the release of
a substance he named Vagusstoff (“vagus
substance”). It wasn’t until much later
that this was identified as the first
neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which
plays a role in memory, muscle
contraction and sleep.
“Vagus nerve stimulator” (VNS)
implants are used in medicine to treat
conditions such as epilepsy, migraine
and tinnitus. A trial by Professor Jesse
Dawson of the University of Glasgow’s
Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical
Sciences is using VNS alongside
physiotherapy to improve arm function
in stroke survivors, by encouraging the
brain to rewire itself.
It’s called the vagus (from the Latin “to
wander”) because it winds its way from
the brain to the torso via key organs
such as the heart and lungs, before
branching out in the gut. Its job is to
regulate the stress response — putting
the brakes on our nervous system,
calming our heart rate and breathing
so we can rest and digest.
What the vagus strives for is balance,
getting us quickly back to equilibrium, or
“homeostasis”. However, modern life
poses a huge challenge to it, because the
reptilian brain isn’t adapted to deal with
our stress load — from the incessant
checking of our social media feeds to
scaring ourselves silly with a Peaky
Blinders binge-watch, by way of
a “wind down”. Neither can it
separate an emotional threat (ie
angry email) from an actual
bodily threat (being chased with
an axe), so the physiological
result is the same — our heart
races and we break into a sweat.
Since we always have our foot on
the stress gas pedal, our vagus nerve
simply can’t make its buffering effect
felt and its power, or “vagal tone”,
becomes low.
“Low vagal tone means a poor ability
to calm the stress response or no ability
at all,” says Dr Magdalena Bak-Maier
(, a neuroscientist
and coach specialising in mind-body
connection. “When we are in a state of
fear or anxiety, we are unable to get
ourselves out of that loop. This is why
Sign up for
The Times
Our weekly email
with news and
expert advice for a
healthier, happier
body and mind
It’s the most
part of our
system. It
runs from
the brain stem
to the gut
chronic stress is so damaging. It
diminishes how well the vagus nerve can
return the system back into equilibrium.”
If we have a high vagal tone, on the
other hand, we bounce back quickly,
mitigating the damage of stress.
So how do we tone our vagus? A “fake
it till you make it” approach works; we
can pretend to be calm even if we’re not
feeling it. “If you visualise a calming
scene, the mind can trick the body that
it is actually happening,” says Dr
Bak-Maier. “The vagus nerve picks up
the cue and calms down in harmony.
Long out-breaths have the same effect.”
Activities that are physically or
emotionally soothing, that tap into the
nurturing we received as a child are
highly vagus-friendly. “Stroking a pet or
cuddling a hot water bottle will help
trigger a return to homeostasis,” says
Dr Bak-Maier.
We can also stimulate the nerve with
low-frequency sound. The Harley Street
acupuncturist Stefan Chmelik has
devised a smartphone-linked wearable
gadget, the Sensate, which emits deep
pulses of sound. It is placed on the chest,
where the vagus comes close to the
surface. I’ve tried it; ten minutes on it is
like a power nap. He came upon the idea
after having had great success in his
clinic using vibroacoustic therapy, where
the vagus nerve is stimulated by an
electronic pad in the back of a chair.
”Used alongside other therapies such as
counselling, it seemed to speed up
results,” he says.
But you don’t need a special device;
humming, gargling and omming, which
also create a low-frequency vibration,
have the same effect.
An important safety cue for the vagus
is the sing-song voice that we use to talk
to young children and pets (known as
“motherese”), says Stephen Porges, a
professor of psychiatry at the University
of North Carolina. Professor Porges’s
“polyvagal theory” outlines how when
we feel safe and we experience positive
social connections (a smile, a calming
voice) our vagus nerve communicates
this positive message to our organs.
“We are born with a sensitivity to
melodic vocalisations similar to a
mother’s lullaby,” he explains.
Research by Dr Chris Streeter, an
associate professor of psychiatry and
neurology at Boston University School
of Medicine in Massachusetts, has shown
that yoga can improve stress-related
disorders by increasing vagal tone. Our
digestion is also influenced by the
vagus nerve, which is involved in
gut motility — the speed at
which food moves through
our intestines. However,
Eve Kalinik, a nutritional
therapist, says: “If the
workings of this nerve
are compromised, then
things may not move as
efficiently. This can lead
to symptoms such as IBS
and constipation.”
What does she
suggest to clients? “Deep
puts the body
naturally into a ‘rest and
digest’ mode that has a
positive effect on the vagus nerve
and in turn creates a smoother
running of the gut.”
Victoria Woodhall
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
12 Food + Drink
Roasted celeriac
and mushrooms
Cauliflower and
goat’s cheese
Made from
Jerusalem artichoke
Five vegetarian burgers (that
There’s more to veggie burgers than
beans and lentils. Try these meat-free
options from chef Martin Nordin
Roasted celeriac
Makes 6 burgers
3 small celeriacs
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying
For the herb cream
1 bunch of mixed fresh herbs, eg thyme,
rosemary and dill
Freshly squeezed juice of ½ lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
100g crème fraîche
For the chanterelles
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying
150-200g chanterelle mushrooms
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp butter
Sea salt and ground black pepper
To serve
6 burger buns, buttered
Fresh dill and thyme
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
2 Clean the celeriacs, then dry them.
3 Heat plenty of oil in a frying pan and
flash-fry the whole celeriacs all over
until the skin is golden brown. Transfer
them to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle
with salt and pepper. Bake for about
2 hours, until soft.
4 For the herb cream, mix together the
herbs, lemon juice and olive oil using a
hand blender or food processor. Season.
Pour the crème fraîche into a bowl and
sprinkle the herb mixture over it. Stir it
with a fork to create a delicate marbling.
5 For the chanterelles, heat the oil in a
frying pan until it starts to smoke. Toss
in the chanterelles and flash-fry for a
minute or so. Crush the garlic cloves
with the thick edge of a knife and add to
the pan. Reduce the heat and fry until
the chanterelles develop a nice colour.
6 Fry the buttered buns in a pan, or grill
in the oven.
7 Cut the roasted celeriac into 1 cm-thick
slices and put 2 or 3 slices on each bun.
Splash on a little herb cream, a spoon of
mushrooms and finish with the herbs.
Quinoa and sweet
potato burger
Makes 6 burgers
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 eggs
100g chickpea flour
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp wholegrain Dijon mustard
1 tbsp walnut butter or other nut butter
Juice of ½ lemon
200g boiled quinoa
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying
For the horseradish sour cream
3 tbsp finely grated fresh horseradish
300g sour cream
To serve
6 burger buns, buttered
Finely sliced shallots
Finely chopped fresh chives
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
2 Put the sweet potatoes into an
ovenproof dish and bake them until soft
(it will take about 45 min).
3 Split the potatoes lengthways and
scoop out the insides with a spoon.
4 Lightly whisk the eggs in a food
processor using a knife blade. Add the
sweet potato, chickpea flour, chilli
powder, mustard, nut butter and lemon
juice season and blend well. Transfer to
a bowl and add the quinoa. Mix well.
5 Take a handful of mixture at a time
and shape into 6 round patties, then
cover with clingfilm. Refrigerate for at
least an hour.
6 Set the oven to 180C/gas 4.
7 Mix the horseradish and sour cream
in a bowl. Add salt to taste and set aside.
8 Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a
frying pan. Fry both sides of the patties
for a few minutes over a medium heat,
until they have developed a little colour.
Bake in the oven for 5-10 min.
9 Fry the buttered buns in a pan.
10 Put a patty on the bottom half of each
bun, splash on some horseradish sour
cream and top with shallots and chives.
Cauliflower burger
with goat’s cheese
Makes 6 burgers
3 small cauliflower heads
150g butter at room temperature
For the lemon oil
Shaved peel of ½ lemon
100ml olive oil
For the goat’s cheese cream
200g creamy goat’s cheese or feta
200g crème fraîche
To serve
6 burger buns, buttered
1 tbsp coarsely crushed pink
Zest of ½ lemon
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
2 For the lemon oil, heat the lemon peel
and olive oil in a small saucepan.
Remove the saucepan from the hob
when it starts to simmer, then set aside
to cool and infuse for 10 min. Remove
the lemon peel and set the oil aside.
3 Trim the cauliflower heads and rub
in plenty of butter. Season. Transfer
them to an ovenproof dish and bake
for 10 min. Then reduce the heat to
150C/gas 2 and bake for a further 30-40
min, until the cauliflower has taken on a
golden colour and starts to soften. The
florets should give if you press them
gently, but they must not go too soft.
4 Put the goat’s cheese into a bowl and
mash it with a fork. Add the crème
fraîche and stir until smooth. Season.
5 Fry the buttered buns in a frying pan.
6 Cut the cauliflower into 1cm-thick
slices and place two slices on each bun.
Spread on a little of the goat’s cheese
cream, sprinkle over some crushed pink
pepper and add a little watercress.
Drizzle lemon oil over it and finish by
topping with a little lemon zest.
Fennel and carrot
Serves 10
2-3 carrots
500g savoy cabbage
300g fennel
Zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp freshly
squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp mustard seeds
50ml pickling vinegar
100g sugar
150ml water
For the coleslaw dressing
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dill seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
200g mayonnaise
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
Recipes taken from
Green Burgers by
Martin Nordin (Hardie
Grant, £10)
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Food + Drink 13
Made from
sweet potato
chickpea patty
meat eaters will love too)
Fennel and carrot coleslaw,
left, and kohlrabi coleslaw
To serve
Lemon segments
1 For the coleslaw dressing, roast the
fennel seeds, dill seeds and whole
peppercorns in a dry pan over a
medium heat until fragrant and golden
brown. Pound the spices in a mortar.
2 Put the spice mix in a bowl; pour in the
rest of the ingredients for the coleslaw
dressing. Whisk until fluffy.
3 Pickle the mustard seeds. Bring them
to boil in a pan of lightly salted water.
Simmer for 40 min then discard the
liquid. Bring the vinegar, sugar, water
and mustard seeds to the boil. Stir until
the sugar has dissolved, then set aside.
4 Peel the carrots and trim the cabbage
and fennel. Thinly slice (or spiralise) all
three, then transfer to a bowl and pour
the lemon juice over them. Knead well
with your hands.
5 Stir in the dressing, top with the lemon
zest, parsley and the pickled mustard
seeds. Serve with the lemon segments.
Kohlrabi coleslaw
2 tbsp butter
Olive oil
400g kohlrabi
500g sweetheart (hispi) cabbage
2-3 spring onions
50g fresh horseradish
Zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp freshly
squeezed lemon juice
Finely chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp olive oil
1 serving coleslaw dressing (see left)
To serve
6 burger buns, buttered
1 Make the dressing as above.
2 Peel the kohlrabi and remove the
coarse part of the cabbage and kohlrabi
roots. Thinly slice (or spiralise) the
spring onions, kohlrabi and cabbage.
3 Peel and finely grate the horseradish.
Put the horseradish in the bowl with the
cabbage and kohlrabi. Mix in the lemon
juice and knead well with your hands.
4 Fold in the dressing and top with the
dill and lemon zest. Finish by drizzling
some olive oil on top.
Chickpea burger
Makes 6 burgers
3 red peppers
Olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
500g cooked chickpeas
3 garlic cloves
2 eggs
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp mild chilli powder
50g panko breadcrumbs
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying
For the cucumber salad
1 bunch of dill
2 cucumbers
Zest of 1 lemon
Sesame seeds
Olive oil
For the oven-baked onions
2 onions
1 Preheat the grill to 250C/gas 7.
2 Halve and deseed the peppers. Put the
peppers on a baking tray with the skins
facing up and drizzle oil over them.
Season, then grill until the skin is black.
Remove the peppers and put in a plastic
bag. When cool, remove the skin and
chop into pieces.
3 Make the oven-baked onions: preheat
the oven to 200C/gas 6. Peel and
quarter the onions. Put them in an
ovenproof dish, add the butter and
drizzle the olive oil over them. Season.
Bake the onions in the middle of the
oven for 20-30 min or until they have
developed some colour.
4 Rinse the chickpeas in cold water and
drain them well in a colander.
5 Peel and finely chop the garlic. Lightly
whisk the eggs in a food processor. Add
the oven-baked onions, chickpeas,
grilled peppers, paprika, chilli powder,
panko breadcrumbs, garlic and salt.
Pulse-blend to mix well.
6 Take a handful of mixture at a time
and shape into 6 round patties. Put the
patties in the fridge for at least an hour.
7 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
8 Take some sprigs of dill for the
cucumber salad. Shave the cucumber
lengthways using a vegetable peeler.
Put the cucumber slices in a bowl and
mix in the dill, lemon zest, sesame seeds
and some dill heads. Drizzle over a little
olive oil and carefully turn the salad
using your hands. Season to taste.
9 Heat a frying pan over a medium heat
and pour in a little oil. Fry the patties for
a few minutes on both sides, until they
have a nice colour and a crispy surface.
Transfer the patties to an ovenproof
dish and bake for 5-10 min.
10 Fry the buttered buns in a frying pan.
11 Put a patty on the bottom half of each
bun and top with the cucumber salad.
As part of the newly
launched Times + Dining,
Times Subscribers can
get 20 to 25 per cent
off the total food bill,
including drinks, at
more than 2,000
restaurants nationwide.
For full details visit
Jerusalem artichoke
patty with herb oil
Makes 6 burgers
1kg Jerusalem artichokes
Rapeseed or peanut oil for frying
6 tbsp butter
For the herb oil
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
6 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp crushed green peppercorns
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
For the miso sauce
50g butter
4 tbsp miso paste
300ml whipping cream
To serve
6 burger buns, buttered
Lettuce leaves
The ultimate
cake guide
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
2 Mix all the herb oil ingredients together
in a bowl.
3 Scrub the artichokes clean, keeping as
much of the skins as possible. Cut away
the knotted parts.
4 Heat the oil in a frying pan, and fry the
artichokes until the skins are golden
brown (10-15 min). Transfer to a baking
tray lined with baking parchment and
put in the oven for 10 min.
5 Melt the butter for the miso sauce, then
stir in the miso paste. Reduce the heat
and whisk in the cream a little at a time,
until you have a glossy sauce.
6 Gently bash the artichokes with a
spoon so they open up a little. Shape 6
small patties. Put a knob of butter on
each patty. Bake in the oven for 10 min.
7 Fry the buttered buns in a frying pan.
8 Put a lettuce leaf on the bottom half of
each bun. Place a patty on top, spoon
over a little miso sauce and herb mix.
19 nights
Grand Slam
in the Sun
Fin ’S
January 09, 2019
Australian Open
This offer includes
xperience the excitement of the Australian
Open, as you watch tennis history being made
at 2019’s fi rst Glam Slam of the year. With your
tickets to the Men’s and Women’s Finals, you’ll
witness the best tennis stars in the world compete
for glory in a game like no other, aptly named the
‘Fans Slam’ due to the atmosphere on the grounds
- an experience every tennis fan would simply love
to tick off their bucket list. Aside from the tennis,
five nights gives you plenty of time to explore the
city. Melbourne is famous for its markets, where
you’ll fi nd everything from local produce to arts
and crafts and vintage fashion. Or if you want
to escape the buzz of the city, you could travel to
nearby Yarra Valley.
ABTA No.Y6300
Six night hotel stay at Citadines on Bourke in Melbourne
Your itinerary
Golden Princess - Melbourne, Fjordland National
Park, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Gisborne,
Tauranga, Melbourne
13 night full-board cruise on board Golden Princess
Tickets to the Australian Open Tennis Championships including:
Men’s Singles Final
Women’s Singles Final
Men’s Doubles Final
Women’s Double final
Mixed Doubles Final
All flights (London departure)
Regional flight departures available
All transfers (Excludes transfers to and from the
Melbourne Tennis)
Monday–Sunday, 9am–9pm.
0330 160 8711
For full terms and conditions please visit Prices are per person based on two adults sharing an Inside, Outside, Balcony or Suite. Imagine Cruising are fully ABTA and ATOL bonded.
Regional flights available with a supplement.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Food + Drink 15
Pinot grigio doesn’t have to be boring
This week’s best buys
Jane MacQuitty
inot grigio has long been
considered the boring choice
for drinkers who want to
play it safe, which perhaps
explains why it’s our most
popular white wine after
sauvignon blanc. If you want
to spend only a fiver, you won’t get an
interesting bottle, but those who have
been prepared to spend a few pounds
more have been rewarded with much
more characterful wines over recent
years since a new breed of conscientious
growers are pushing up quality, not only
in Italy, but the world over. Hopefully
the new Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC
classification, which was rubber-stamped
last year, will encourage more producers
to raise their game.
The different styles of pinot grigio can
be confusing for novices. Italy’s
northeast corner of Trentino-Alto Adige,
Veneto and Friuli produces almost all of
the country’s pinot grigio — more than a
third of the world’s production — and
mostly it is light, leafy, easy-quaffing
stuff. The best, however, display a
pleasing salty, mineral twang on the
finish. This week’s Marks & Spencer star
buy will show you some of this. Instead,
you could turn to Franz Haas and his
family, who have been making beautiful
pinot grigio at Bolzano in the Alto Adige
for decades. Their low-yielding hillside
vineyard fruit always sings, so snap
up their ripe yet dry, spritzy, yellow
plum-packed, mineral-finished 2016
Pinot Grigio Alto Adige (Liberty, £16.99;
Hedonism, 020 7290 7870, £17.80).
Although the New World produces its
fair share of slurp-it-down pinot grigio,
2015 Signature Douro
Red, Portugal,
13.5 per cent
Morrisons, £6 (down
from £8)
Make room in March for
this rich, hearty, French
oak-aged, black plum and
sloe-stashed, chunky
Douro red.
it has a much stronger suit in pinot gris,
which is another name for the same
grape, but signifies that the wine within
is richer, fruitier and more full-bodied,
with exotic, spicy, yellow apple and stone
fruit flavours. Germany and Austria
make some lovely spice-box pinot gris,
as does the US (alongside a lot of sticky
dross). Yet it is Alsace pinot gris that’s in
a class of its own because you can get
an extra dollop of Gallic fruit and
flower-garden finesse. Trimbach’s is one
of the best and driest, so nab its 2015
Pinot Gris Réserve, all rich, floral, peach
and quince-styled fruit (Wine Society,
01438 741177, £15.50).
Australia can and does make delicious
pinot gris (see star buys), as increasingly
does New Zealand, even at the bottom
end. Plump for Aldi’s dry, orchard
fruit-stashed 2017 Freeman’s Bay Pinot
Gris (£5.69) or, from March 18, its rich,
off-dry, fruity, sweet nectarine-spiced
2017 Lot Series Ashwood Estate Pinot
Gris (£6.99), both Gisborne gems.
Vineyards in the
Alto Adige region of
northeastern Italy
The best Italian
pinot grigios
display a
pleasing salty,
mineral twang
on the finish
2016 Beaujolais-Villages,
Chapelle aux Loups,
Louis Jadot, 12.5 per cent
Waitrose, £8.99 (down
from £11.99)
There’s beaujolais and
then there’s beaujolais;
this is the latter: a granite
soil-sourced, jolly, juicy,
red berry and red
plum joy.
e Valley, Blanc
2014 Bride
de Blancs, Dorset,
England, 11.5 per cent
Liberty (020 7720 5350),
Another beaut from
Bride, Steven Spurrier’s
tongue-tingling, steely,
zesty, preserved lemon
of a chardonnay fizz
is a must.
2016 Pinot Grigio Delle
Venezie, Bidoli, Italy,
12.5 per cent
Marks & Spencer, £6
(down from £8)
Step into spring with this
brilliant value for money
pinot grigio, bursting with
lively, floral, leafy,
easy-sipping spice.
2017 Russian Jack
Pinot Gris, Marlborough,
New Zealand, 13 per cent
Majestic, £10.99
Stylish label, stylish wine,
with the sort of heady,
smoky, stone-fruit pizzazz
that is tailor-made for
spicy stir-fries.
2016 The La
Lane Block
Two, Pinot Gris,
Australia, 13 per cent
Corney & Barrow
(020 7265 2430), £14.95
Pinot gris from a prime
patch of Adelaide Hills
limestone, with gorgeous,
zesty, yet grapey, ginger
and orange-blossom fruit.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
How to deal with the aftermath
The snow has gone,
but has it left your
garden in a state?
Stephen Anderton
explains how to revive
frost-damaged plants
sprouts in April and May. Sometimes
shrubs will sprout from the base, even if
the branches have been killed. Where
bark has split away from a branch or
stem it’s a sign that the limb will die, but
this is more likely to happen later, once
the sap has started to rise faster.
Severe cold over several days can
penetrate the soil, and if you have left
dahlias in the ground they might have
turned to mush. Again, for now, be
patient and see what reappears. Scrape
back the soil in a couple of weeks, if
you like, and see if they are firm.
Your lawn
Some plants deserve to be lightly
You probably made tracks over your
relieved of the weight of snow, even
lawn that turned to compacted ice, then
while it is falling. Most susceptible to
slush. No problem there. But now all
the weight of snow are plants from tough
that snow has melted, the lawn is going
wild places that grow too lushly in rich
to be thoroughly sodden, so this is the
garden shelter, such as rosemary and
time to keep off it as much as possible.
lavender, from the baked Mediterranean,
Meanwhile, it may have been frozen
or broom, from our high hills. Snow
hard before the snow came, and if you
collects on them as it falls, and their
walked on it while it was crisp
inadequate roots can’t stop them
with hard frost, you probably
from being pulled over or
made footprints that have
even split. Now the snow
now turned a ghostly
has gone, they need a
black. Again, no problem.
small stake or cane to
That’s only dead blades
pull them up. The
of grass. They will
chances are that they
disappear as new blades
won’t be quite vertical
grow through.
again and pulling them
When snow falls on
ramrod straight may
Melting snow can
hard-frozen ground it seals
crack roots, doing more
damage flowers
in the cold. Then, when the
harm than good. But they
snow melts, the frozen soil can
will fill out and their tipsiness
stop the meltwater draining away
will gradually be disguised.
freely. Be patient if your lawn is
Icy meltwater can be just as damaging
saturated with water. It should go away.
as cold, so for plants that like good
winter drainage — alpines, cushion
plants, tender bulbs — there may be
damage happening now. Again, there’s
It is far too soon to tell what damage
nothing you can do except wait and see
has been done here, so don’t rush into
how things respond once spring comes.
action. Bear in mind that the soil will
be sodden and that footfall will quickly
Pots and containers
compact the soil, so stay off if you can.
Large-leaved evergreens may look
Potted plants have a hard time when it
bedraggled, the leaves dullish and
is cold because their roots are exposed
droopy, but it does not mean that they
to it (although a swaddling of snow
will not recover, although they may only
will have kept off even colder air
look thoroughly healthy once they have
temperatures, to their benefit).
made new growth in spring. For now,
Still they may have gradually frozen
think of them as panting head-down
solid, so now they need any remaining
after a 100m race; all they need is to be
snow to be quickly removed so that the
left alone for a while.
sun and milder air can warm the roots.
That pre-snow cold was pretty severe
Remember that the leaves of evergreens
in some places, minus 6C to minus 8C,
(eg bay, box, olive, camellia and bamboo)
and that can kill tender shrubs, but don’t
need water all year and if their roots are
hurry to cut them back, wait to see what
frozen solid they cannot draw it up. They
eather like last
week’s gives
gardens a
pounding. Plants
were frozen,
weighed down
with snow, then
flooded. Even though the cold snap is on
its way out, and in some parts of the UK
it feels positively balmy in comparison,
the effects may be lasting. Here’s how to
help your garden to recover.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
of the cold snap
‘The sea boomed and shot up
spray, each wave slapping
back on its successor’
Christopher Somerville’s good walk
There’s a right time
to trim your hydrangeas
Getting it wrong
can cost you
most of your
flowers, warns
Stephen Anderton
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snow Queen’
can die of winter drought, so make sure
that you keep them hydrated. If you
think that the roots are frozen (and
poking your finger into the compost will
tell you this), stand the plants out of the
sun until they have thawed. You can
spot when a bamboo is thirsty because
its leaves turn into scrolls, like cigars.
Pots of bulbs that were nicely pushing
through will have been doused with
melting snow, although if you raked the
crust off with your fingers when the
thaw began, the soaking will have been
reduced. To stop the compost becoming
too sodden (and fibrous bulb compost
easily becomes so) lift the pots off the
paving with slips of stone to ensure that
the meltwater can drain freely.
Clay pots that were wet and then
frozen hard might have burst. So-called
frostproof pots only resist spalling when
the clay freezes, but they cannot resist
the sheer physical expansion of wet
compost turning to a block of ice. Tie the
pieces of pot together round the roots
with string, then repot them next month.
re your hydrangeas all
set for the new season?
Have you done your
pruning? Different
kinds need different
treatments, and it’s
important to know
which variety needs what if you’re going
to get the best from them.
The classic mophead hydrangeas were
languishing in the backwaters of fashion
until recently, despite making such a
fantastic impact in late summer. More
free-thinking gardeners may have
deigned to grow the flat-headed lace-cap
varieties — but mopheads are popular
again with the advent of black-stemmed
varieties such as ‘Black Steel’ and ‘Zaza’
or multicoloured ‘Glam Rock’.
So what pruning do mopheads and
lace caps need? The answer is: not a lot.
The thing to remember is that this
year’s flowers are there in embryo in
the terminal buds of last year’s growth,
especially the fattest ones. If you prune
back these shoots now you will lose
most of your flowers, and if you take
the shears to them you will lose the lot.
First take out one or two of the older,
fatter, branched stems from the base of
the bush. This encourages new ones to
sprout from the base and prevents the
bush getting bigger and bigger over the
years. With care, mopheads can live at
about 1m, whereas unpruned and in a
mild coastal garden they may rise to 3m.
There is no need to thin out all the
twiggier growth, since this too will
provide some smaller flowers. Just
remove the really wispy stuff and be
careful not to knock off swelling buds.
Next snip off last year’s brown flower
heads, left on as frost protection. Just
remove the dry section behind the
flower as far as the first fat buds.
Other hydrangeas flower at the ends
of shoots made the same spring. The
varieties of Hydrangea paniculata flower
this way and should be pruned harder.
If you want larger flowers you can cut
these back to 70cm and expect shoots as
tall as that again, with 20-30cm conical
flower heads on top. Favourites are pink
‘Vanille Fraise’, white ‘Kyushu’ and pale
green ‘Limelight’.
Alternatively, you can cut them back
more gently, by 30cm or so. There will
still be lots of flowers, but they’ll be
smaller and the bush will again grow
up to 2m or so.
The creamy white Hydrangea
‘Annabelle’ has become massively
popular, partly because it combines the
look of a super-vigorous mophead with
the easy pruning of a H. paniculata. So,
again, prune it gently all over in spring
by 30cm and you’ll get good-sized heads
on the ends of the newly made stems.
But cut it down to 15cm, feed it and take
any wispy stems out, and you’ll get heads
like vast cauliflowers that need support.
They’re deliciously vulgar and truly
wonderful. And they’re white rather
than luminous blue, so go with anything.
Climbing hydrangeas (H. petiolaris
and evergreen H. seemannii) are
different and should be pruned in the
summer. Next year’s buds are stored in
last year’s growth, but pruning them
now or at the end of last season, after
the new growth has been made, means
that you will lose flowers. However,
without restricting their spread you will
create a monster plant that darkens
windows and billows out, snow-crusted,
a metre from the wall. The time to
prune, therefore, is in summer, after
the flowers have faded. Then they can
make next year’s flowering growth.
The only other thing to do now, if you
are growing them in a conspicuous spot,
is maybe to break off last year’s flower
heads, as you would a mophead’s, just to
freshen it; but they will disappear into
the new growth pretty soon anyway.
Some hydrangeas barely need any
pruning. These are easy ones. The
glorious, sun-loving shrub Hydrangea
quercifolia, the oak-leaved hydrangea,
is famous for the autumn colour of its
large foliage. There are also the
hairy-leaved hydrangeas, large shrubs
of semi-shade, including ‘Sargentiana’
and ‘Villosa’. All these need or will
accept is a leading shoot snipped back
in spring if the plant looks set to become
gangly, which they easily do.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
20 Outside
The flower
that’s made
for shade
Alice’s favourite varieties
Spotted leaves
Pulmonaria saccharata
The foliage, with its large silver
spots, is the main attraction of this
variety, although the red-brick
flowers are rather elegant too. Each
plant grows 30cm tall and wide.
Position in partial to full shade.
Pulmonarias, with
their elegant blooms
and silvery foliage,
grow happily under
shrubs and trees,
says Alice Bowe
Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’
A reliable form with cobalt blue
flowers that appear continuously
from early March until May above
neatly spotted silvery foliage. It
grows 30cm tall and 50cm wide,
making it a great all-rounder for
planting in partial shade.
Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry
Bright pink flowers on upright
stems held high above spotted
leaves. Expect 30cm in height and
a 45cm spread. Plant in light or
partial shade so the rich colours
are not lost in too dark a spot.
Silvered leaves
arly to flower, easy to grow, favour of intense reds and cobalts (Pulmoand with beautiful, decorative naria ‘Trevi Fountain’) or even clear white
leaves that take over once flowers (Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’)
the flowers have run their because I find that the pastels can look a bit
course; pulmonarias really muddy and the nuances of more delicate
are at their best in March. tints can get lost in a shady spot.
Pulmonaria, or lungwort, is
an essential spring woodlander for a shady How to grow them
Cut back any overwintered foliage
spot. This perennial enjoys dappled
firmly in late February or early
shade and humus-rich soil, but
March to give the plant a
it will grow happily under
chance to refresh itself
shrubs and trees in most
with new leaves before
gardens, so long as the
the blooms appear in
soil does not dry out
March. Choose a
Most varieties prowith humus-rich soil
duce flowers that
and a reliable water
open pink and turn
content. Pulmonarias
blue as they age,
will suffer from a lack
but there are also
of water if the soil is too
pure-white and coraldry, and one of the first
pink varieties to choose
Pulmonarias like
signs is powdery mildew, a
from. The foliage shows
humus-rich soil
built-in indicator that the
just as much variety, ranging
plant is thirsty, stressed and
from plain green to pure silver,
needs a drink.
some with silvery-white freckles, spots
and splashes.
If you spot this, give the whole plant a
It’s important to choose your pulmonar- haircut, a good drenching and feed with a
ia carefully; there is a huge disparity in slow-release fertiliser such as blood,
their performance, so I would look for fish and bone, and you should have a
varieties with an Award of Garden Merit. I revived plant with fresh foliage in less than
tend to pass over the pastel shades in two weeks.
Pulmonaria ‘Majesté’
Pulmonaria ‘Silver Bouquet’
Solid silver foliage that brightens
a shady or woodland garden. The
plant grows 30cm in height and
spread, and does best away from
full sunshine. The flowers exhibit
the classic colouring of pink fading
to purple as they age.
This heavily silvered form spreads
up to 50cm and reaches 30cm tall.
Known for its mildew-resistant
foliage, it also produces a strong
display of flowers from March to
May, which open pink and age
blue. Plant in partial shade.
Pulmonaria rubra
‘David Ward’
Intensely coral-coloured flowers
appear as early as February and
continue through to April. Looks
great against a darker green
background in filtered
or lightly dappled shade.
Plain green leaves
Pulmonaria rubra
The coral-coloured flowers arrive
early and can persist until May.
The mid-green leaves form tight
rosettes and spread out to 30cm,
although they never grow above
20cm in height.
Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’
One of the most richly pigmented
varieties, ‘Blue Ensign’ has deep,
intensely violet-blue flowers
between March and May, against
unspotted green leaves. Grows to
about 45cm tall, with a spread of
about 30cm.
Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst
Ideal for brightening a shady spot,
with ice-white flowers and green
leaves that are delicately speckled
with silver. Plant this 30cm-tall
variety in a shady or semi-shaded
spot for flowers in March and April.
We are focusing more than ever on investigative journalism.
Continuing a long history of exposing the truths that might
never be told if we weren’t there. Bringing you stories like
the Oxfam scandal – the stories that matter.
You can subscribe from £6 a week.
Go to or call 0800 092 2709.
UK residents only, aged 18 or over. This offer is subject to availability. New subscribers only. 12 months contract minimum term. Visit for full T&Cs.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Outside 21
A good walk Margate
to Broadstairs, Kent
Palm Bay
500 metres
Kingsgate Castle,
Botany Bay
Kingsgate Bay
huge wind from the
northwest and a racing,
bracing blue sky greeted
us as our train arrived
in Margate. The old
Kentish seaside resort,
once elegant, then
raffishly ramshackle, now becoming
trendy once more, hangs on the
outermost lip of the Thames, where the
river finally yields sovereignty to the
North Sea.
Kite surfers leapt and twirled joyfully
in the breakers, and dogs galloped the
crescent of tan-coloured sand in front
of the town. The wind giants had
pummelled everything into life and
motion. We bowled along the sea-level
promenade under low chalk cliffs with
faces fractured by the weather.
The sea boomed and shot up spray,
each wave slapping back on its successor.
A flock of tiny, white-breasted
sanderlings pattered this way and that,
out to the tideline after every wave to
snatch whatever edible had been tossed
ashore, before retreating to the safety of
the promenade wall as the next surge of
foam hissed after them up the sand.
Out beyond all this activity and noise,
big ships silently trudged along the sea
horizon, garishly lit in scarlet and white
by shafts of intense sunlight. Already
paired for the approaching nesting
season, a couple of fulmars contemplated
the scene from a crevice high in the
cliffs, while others planed the wind on
wings stiffly out-held.
At Foreness Point the coast path
swung more southerly and the wind
pushed at our backs. On the cliffs of
Kingsgate Bay an enormous flint-built
mock castle filled the headland, the cliffs
below braced and buttressed to prevent
them collapsing under its weight. The
castle was built in Georgian times by
Lord Holland for use as his stables.
The only horses there today were the
white ones that the jade-coloured sea
sent prancing along the feet of the
cliffs below.
We passed North Foreland’s white
lighthouse, threaded a maze of fabulous
clifftop villas and came down into
Broadstairs windblown, salt-spattered
and ruddy-cheeked, our ears still full
of the roar of wind and sea.
Start Margate station, Kent CT9 5AD
(OS ref 347705)
Getting there Rail to Margate. Road:
Margate is on the A28 (Canterbury)
Walk 7½ miles, easy, OS Explorer 150.
From Margate station, walk to seafront;
turn right along Viking Coastal Trail/
VCT. In 2¾ miles, turn up slipway at
Foreness Point (384716); follow VCT
along cliffs. In 1¼ miles, join B2052 at
Kingsgate Bay (3957707). In 350m, take
cycle path on right of road. At Elmwood
Avenue cross Joss Gap Road (399701);
follow VCT along cliffs. In 500m, VCT
turns inland towards North Foreland
Lighthouse, but keep ahead here along
Cliff Promenade. In ½ mile turn inland
along Cliff Road (401690); left along
North Foreland Road. In 250m, opposite
Bishops Avenue, left down alley (397689,
fingerpost); right along shore promenade
are in
full voice
to Viking Bay at Broadstairs (399678).
Inland past Old Curiosity Shop; left along
VCT. In 250m, VCT turns inland (398677);
right along Buckingham Road, left up
High Street for 600m to Broadstairs
station (391680). Rail to Margate.
Conditions Some shore sections may
be inaccessible at very high tide. Check
tides at
Lunch Many cafés and pubs in
n the reedbeds the reed buntings
are singing again. Buntings are close
relatives of the finches — both have
quite large seed-eating beaks — and
get their name because some of
them, particularly the corn bunting,
are plumper birds, making one think
of a chubby baby.
The reed buntings have been
wandering through the fields during
winter in search of food, but now they
are returning to their summer habitat.
Here the males are conspicuous and
look extremely grand when singing.
They sit in exposed positions, such as on
top of a bulrush that is taller than the
reeds around it or on the top of a little
willow tree growing among the reeds.
Some nest nowadays in oilseed rape
fields, and the males can be seen singing
on top of the plants there.
They have a black head, a white
moustache stripe, a black throat and a
white collar. Their back is a mottled black
and brown like a Turkish rug. When they
sing they throw their head back and open
their beak wide in a way that gives them a
snarling expression. They have such a fine
position on their high song post that they
look like commanders of the reed bed.
Unfortunately their song is boring. It
is a thin “tiz, tiz, whizzy-wiz”, constantly
repeated. They can go on singing these
scrappy notes for hours. Anglers sitting
near by can get little joy from it.
The female is a streaky brown bird, but
she has a trace of the white moustache
and white collar. She builds her nest not in
the reeds, but on or near the ground in a
rushy tussock or low bush near the water.
The other well-known British bunting
is the yellow bunting, normally called
the yellowhammer, which has been
singing in hedgerows in cornfields for
several weeks.
In similar fields, but less common, is
the tubby corn bunting, which really is a
kind of commander of the fields around
it, since in May it often has two or three
mates nesting in them, and it regularly
flies officiously around to inspect them.
It likes to sing its jangling song from
telephone wires over the fields.
Derwent May
Accommodation Sands Hotel, 16
Marine Drive, Margate CT9 1DH (01843
228228; —
stylish, comfortable seafront hotel.
More information Margate tourist
information centre (01843 577577;; more maps, walks
Christopher Somerville
We came
down into
windblown and
our ears still full
of the roar of
wind and sea
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
24 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 25
‘Rocky hills loom purply blue
on the horizon beyond rolling
vineyards and orchards’
Lisa Grainger on staying at a luxury South African estate hotel
Britain’s 50 best holiday houses
Whether you want
a cottage, beach
house or barn,
Liz Bird knows
the best places
to book now
Best for families
1 Blaencwm
Hay-on-Wye, Powys
This remote 16th-century stone
farmhouse nestles in a valley beneath
Hay Bluff, a few miles from Hay-onWye. After a walk across the Brecon
Beacons, return to splash around in the
nearby waterfall pool, or soak in the
wood-fired hot tub. Then retire to this
cosy cottage, with its enormous oak
beams, flagstone floors, open fires and
underfloor heating as well as table
tennis and a pool table. The master
bedroom has a sleigh bed with an
optional single bed. There are two
further bedrooms.
Details A three-night break for six costs
£881-£1,095, a week is £1,166-£1,594
(01874 676446,
2 Serpentine
Acres of glass maximise the
views from this curvaceous,
cliff-side house in Whitsand
Bay. A wildflower grass roof
also helps to blend the house,
surrounded by a half-acre
garden, into the coastal
landscape. The open-plan living
area has a sleek kitchen, suspended
wood-burner and sliding doors on to
the terrace. All four en suite double
bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows
with sea views. Climb down steps to a
footpath leading to the quirkily named
Finnygook Beach.
Details A three-night break for eight
costs £1,395-£2,600, a week is
£1,795-£5,495 (01637 882014,
3 Beechwood
House New Forest
The pool house at
Beechwood House
It’s not often you find a small
holiday cottage with its own
outdoor heated pool. The
three-bedroom house’s interior is
light and spacious, with a lovely
conservatory off the living area and a
separate lounge with a cosy woodburner. Across the lawn is the Stables, W
the times Saturday March 10 2018
26 Travel
home to a playroom with a tepee and
toys, and a reading room ideal for
grandparents needing an escape (a
ground-floor en suite bedroom is in the
main house).
Details A two-night break for six costs
£848-£1,413, a week is £1,630-£3260
(0800 1337999,
The helter skelter at
Wye Valley Bunkhouse
4 St Michael’s Cottage
Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Children will love climbing the stairs to
the lookout tower, with its telescope and
wraparound windows, in this higgledypiggledy 16th-century merchant’s house.
The four-bedroom brick and flint house
oozes character, with beams, exposed
brick and feature fireplaces combined
with a neutral palette and stylish fixtures
and fittings. The kitchen/diner is lovely,
with an oak table, pews and underfloor
heating. Wells-next-the-Sea, with its
sandy beach and colourful beach huts, is
a few minutes’ walk away.
Details A three-night break for eight
costs £1,028-£1,877, a week is £1,371£2,503 (01328 887600,
5 Hatts Barn Dorset
This two-bedroom semi-detached barn
near the historic village of Shaftesbury is
ideally placed for visiting Stonehenge
and Longleat safari park. It’s on a farm
and children can feed the animals;
there’s also a lake where you can picnic.
Floor-to-ceiling windows on the
galleried living area maximise the rural
views and there’s a Shaker-style kitchen
and wood-burner. There are two
bedrooms, one sleeping three.
Details A three-night break for five
costs £363-£660, a week is £478-£1,195
(01326 55555,
6 The Coach House
Near Dartmouth, Devon
There’s a Scandi-chic feel to the interior
of this Georgian coach house, part of a
complex of eight cottages on the
Gitcombe Estate in the idyllic South
Hams. The airy living room has slate
flagstones, an inglenook fireplace and
French doors leading to a pretty garden.
Two upstairs bedrooms have space for a
cot. Young children will love the carved
wooden playground, indoor soft-play
room and indoor and outdoor pools.
Grown-ups can play tennis and relax in
the sauna and steam rooms.
Details A two-night break for four costs
£539-£796, a week is £925-£2,305 (020
3603 1160,
7 Bruern Cottages
It’s hard to beat the family facilities at
these luxury Cotswold cottages near
Chipping Norton, with everything from
a Wendy house and heated play cabin to
an indoor pool and games room for
teenagers. Most of the 12 cottages are set
in a converted Victorian stables, some
with enclosed gardens. The decor is
unashamedly country house, with fourposters in the master bedrooms, antiques
and marble bathrooms.
Details A two-night break for five costs
£920-£2,145, a week is £1,124-£2,629
(01993 830415,
8 Marlborough Cottage
East Devon
This pretty grade II listed thatched
cottage in Combpyne has a games
shed in the half-acre garden with
table football and toys for young
children. The hub of the house
is the large kitchen/diner with
an Aga and separate utility
room. The living room has
beams and an inglenook
fireplace. If you fancy eating
out at Hugh FearnleyWhittingstall’s River Cottage
HQ, babysitting can be arranged.
The sandy beaches of Seaton and
Lyme Regis are near by.
Details A three-night break for seven
costs £354-£1,111, a week is £495-£1,556
(01647 434078,
9 Heather Cottage
Gillamoor, North Yorkshire
Use this two-bedroom cottage in the
North York Moors National Park as a
base for steam train rides into Whitby,
where you can spend a day on the beach,
walk up to the gothic abbey ruins and
feast on fish and chips. Upstairs are two
bedrooms, and there is a pretty back
garden. There are walks from the door.
Details A three-night break for four
costs £490-£657, a week is £813-£1,159
(01386 8971974,
10 Waterfall Lodge
Loch Tay, Perthshire
This three-bedroom log cabin-style
lodge overlooks a waterfall that drops
into a natural plunge pool. It’s ideal for
active families, with mountain biking,
sailing, canoeing and hiking available on
a 140-acre private Highlands estate on
the shores of Loch Tay. It has a hot tub
on the balcony with waterfall views, and
there is a sauna. An open-plan living
area has a wood-burning stove, velvet
sofas and a kitchen. If you don’t fancy
cooking, eat at the on-site Boathouse
restaurant, which overlooks the
marina, where you can hire boats.
Details A three-night break for
six costs £825-£995, a week is
£1,115-£1,415 (01252 339020,
11 The Boathouse
Enjoy watery views of the stunning
Glaslyn Estuary from practically
every angle through floor-to-ceiling
windows and a glass-fronted balcony
(the absence of a gate between the house
and marina wall means it’s best for older
children). There’s a well-equipped
kitchen and second living room with a
table tennis table. Snowdonia is ideal for
active families who enjoy zip wires,
mountain bike trails and hiking.
Details A week for eight costs
£1,610-£2,485 (0333 2020899,
single-storey rustic-chic cottage. The
pièce de résistance is the long, highceilinged living area with a bespoke
kitchen that has mismatched dining
chairs at one end and a leather sofa and
wood-burner at the other. Three pretty
cottage-style bedrooms share a
bathroom and shower room. The
spectacular Pembrokeshire coastline is
ideal for active families, with kayaking,
coasteering, walking and boat trips
around Ramsey Island.
Details A three-night break for six
costs £374, a week is £515-£1,524
(01348 837871,
13 Samphire Cottage
Whitstable, Kent
This stylish three-bedroom Victorian
cottage is a few minutes’ walk from
Whitstable’s gentle shelving beach. The
open-plan living area is lovely, with
wooden floors, an exposed brick
fireplace and splashes of colour in the
form of a purple velvet sofa and dark
blue panelled walls. A door leads out to
an enclosed garden, with a decked
terrace and lawn ideal for ball games.
Upstairs are three bedrooms, two
doubles with pretty fireplaces and one
with a bunk bed.
Details A three-night break for six
costs £499-£751, a week is £614-£929
(01580 232255,
12 Abermawr Cottage
Mathry, Pembrokeshire
Best for groups
14 Wye Valley
Brecon Beacons
Walk through National Trust woodland
to reach the sand and shingle beaches of
Abermawr and Aberbach from this
You get an interior helter skelter when
you stay at this beautifully refurbished
chapel in Glasbury-on-Wye. Yes, you’ll
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 27
1930s timber-framed bungalow. It has
been given a modern makeover, with
wooden floors, eclectic furniture and a
wood-burner in the living area, where
French doors open on to a sea-view deck
with a dining table and fire pit. There is
a cot and high chair and lots of toys.
Details A week for six costs £800
to £1,400 (
22 The Old Rectory
Rhossili, Gower Peninsula
be sleeping in a dorm, but it’s a superstylish one, with 12 bunks (there is also
one double room). The open-plan living
area has huge windows, glass panels in
the wooden floor and a wood-burner.
Downstairs is a canoe and mountainbike hire shop, making it convenient
when exploring the countryside, while
next door is the superb River Café.
Details A two-night break for 14
is £980, a week is £2,390 (01497
15 Greenwich Lane Farm
near Witney, Oxfordshire
A sprawling open-plan living area with
chic lights suspended from a spectacular
arched ceiling forms the centrepiece to
this 17th-century Cotswold farmhouse.
French doors lead to a sprawling lawn
(there’s also a treehouse and play area).
The kitchen is well equipped, with an
Aga. The cosy drawing room, dotted
with antiques, has an open fire and
book-lined shelves. Four bedrooms are
decked out in a country-house style.
There is also a two-bedroom annexe.
Details A two-night break for nine costs
£2,500 year-round, a week is £6,000
(020 3859 7763,
16 Edenvale Great
Langdale, Lake District
This luxurious Arts and Crafts-style
house has stunning views of the lush
Langdale Valley. No expense has been
spared on the country-house interior,
with Gaggenau appliances and a heated
sandstone floor in the kitchen. Eat in
the dining room, which has a curved
wall of panoramic windows. The five
bedrooms are en suite and come with
heated marble floors, one with a
magnificent pewter double-ended bath.
Details A three-night break for ten costs
£2,750-£3,935, a week is £3,500-£6,250
(01637 882014,
17 The Old Barn
Chelsworth, Suffolk
Ancient meets modern at this 17thcentury newly converted oak-frame
barn. The living space is vast, with
cathedral-height ceilings, exposed
brickwork, original beams and huge
windows framing the countryside views.
The designers who own it have attached
a cutting-edge “pod-like” conservatory
that protrudes into the sunken garden at
the back. The industrial-chic interior
includes an all-stainless-steel kitchen,
polished concrete floors, contemporary
chairs and stylish lighting.
Details A three-night break for
12 costs £1,324-£2,025, a week
is £1,765-£2,600 (01394 389189,
18 The Shieling
Bamburgh, Northumberland
There is a New England vibe to this
immaculate house overlooking the
spectacular Bamburgh Castle. Decorated
in a neutral palette, the interior is light
and bright, with driftwood lamps, striped
soft furnishings and pebble tiles in some
of the five en suite bathrooms. The
kitchen is well kitted out, with a
Rangemaster oven and Le Creuset
cookware. A games room has table
tennis and snooker. After a walk along
the white sands of Bamburgh, tuck into
superb seafood at the Potted Lobster.
Details A three-night break for ten
costs £2,000-£3,196, or for a week
£2,500-£3,955 (01573 226711,
This newly refurbished Victorian rectory
is on a three-mile stretch of golden sand,
a popular surf beach. An outhouse
makes great storage for your boards. Eat
in front of the wood-burner in the dining
room, with doors leading to the garden.
There are four bedrooms, one a single.
Details A three-night break for seven
costs £670-£725, a week is £1,030-£1,115
(0344 8002070,
Best by the beach
19 Melin Abereiddy
Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire
There is a homely feel to this
18th-century mill, metres from the
Blue Flag beach of Abereiddy. Original
features include slate-flagged floors,
beams and an inglenook fireplace with a
wood-burner. The rustic galley-style
kitchen has an electric Aga, Belfast sink
and a Welsh dresser. Strike out along
the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Details A four-night break for
five costs £497-£898, a week
is £649-£1,654 (01437 765765,
20 Estuary
Lympstone, Devon
Launch a canoe or boat from the
slipway next to this pretty
fisherman’s cottage on the Exe
Estuary. The interior is coastal chic,
with porthole windows, carvings of
wading birds, stripy fabrics and
cream-painted floorboards. There is a
smart kitchen with high chairs round a
butcher’s block island. Children will love
sleeping beneath the eaves in the attic
room. For a special meal take a water
taxi from Exmouth (which has a sandy
beach) to the floating River Exe Café.
Details A three-night break for six costs
£750, a week is £1,650, both year-round
(07775 900708,
21 The Beach Hive
Pevensey, East Sussex
A shingle beach is only a few steps away
from the garden of this three-bedroom
23 Beachside Cottage
Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Go rock-pooling on the beach a few
metres from the deck fronting this
characterful cottage on Steephill Cove.
The three bedrooms have lovely sea
views. The Shaker-style kitchen is well
equipped with a double oven, espresso
machine and sea views from the rear
window. Eat on the deck or try the
nearby Boathouse restaurant,
renowned for its fresh crab.
Details A three-night break for
six costs £971-£1,375, a week is
£1,386-£1,898 (01227 464958,
24 Pentire
Fistral Beach, Cornwall
It is not often that you find a hot tub big
enough for eight. And what a view
it has: a sweeping panorama of sand and
surf from the vast balcony of this circular
two-storey penthouse. Light floods
through acres of glass in the top-floor
living area, with a modern white kitchen,
Eames-style chairs, Anglepoise lamps
and leather chairs. There are four en
suite bedrooms with vintage furniture,
sheepskin rugs and rainforest showers.
Don’t miss Paul Harwood’s Fish House.
Details A three-night break for eight
costs £1,209-£1,812, a week from
£1,920-£2,880 (01566 770880,
Continued next page
the times Saturday March 10 2018
28 Travel
25 Buoys 102 Kent
There is a retro feel to this light-filled
house in Romney Marsh, with its French
signs, period furniture and colourful
accessories reflecting its 1960s and 1970s
heritage. Enter via the sunroom, which
has bookshelves and a telescope for
stargazing. The two upstairs bedrooms
have sea views. The family bathroom
and a twin room are on the ground floor.
The large rear shingle garden is dotted
with sea kale and has a gate leading to
the beach. Dungeness’s shingle beach,
lighthouse and abundant birdlife is a
short drive along the coast. Or take the
Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch steam
railway, which passes the cottage.
Details A three-night break for six costs
£534-£1,079, a week is £657-£1,079
26 Blue Reef Cottages
Isle of Harris
You may spot otters and seals on the
beach below this pair of luxury grassroofed cottages in the remote crofting
village of Scarista. When the sun shines,
explore vast sandy beaches on your
electric bike or barbecue langoustines,
washed down with bubbly from your
welcome pack. When it rains, cosy up in
front of the wood-burner, or take a
sauna with sea views in the bathroom.
Details A three-night break for two costs
£520-£1,200, a week is £1,050-£1,980
(01859 550370,
27 Beach Cottage
Cadgwith, Cornwall
This traditional one-bedroom cottage
occupies an enviable position on one of
the Lizard Peninsula’s loveliest coves.
Glass doors from the open-plan living
area frame the view and there is a patio.
The cottage is simply furnished with
pine furniture, plus art by the owner on
the walls. Walk along the South West
Coast Path and don’t miss the fresh fish
at the 400-year-old Cadgwith Cove Inn.
Details A three-night break for two costs
£332.50 (available off-peak), a week is
£397-£750 (01326 555555,
28 Blue Waters
St Ives, Cornwall
You can’t get much closer to the sand
than this stylish, three-storey apartment.
Step on to the surf beach Porthmeor
through the French doors in the
downstairs snug, which has a cinemastyle TV and comfy sofa. Upstairs, light
floods into the open-plan living area,
with a sleek kitchen and glass balcony
overlooking the surf. The property also
has three revamped en suite bedrooms.
Details A three-night break for six costs
from £1,036, a week is £1,575-£3,495
(01872 241241,
29 Beach View
Angmering, West Sussex
This cool 1930s house overlooks a quiet
stretch of shingle beach. The clapperclad building is very New England chic,
with blue and white decor, wood floors
and vintage leather sofas. The six
bedrooms have billowing white-muslin
draped four-poster beds and shutteradorned walls. On balmy days pull back
the large folding doors on to the dining
terrace overlooking the walled
beachfront garden. The back garden has
a hot tub for seven and sunloungers.
Details Three nights for 12 costs
£3,540-£4,740, a week is £6,600-£8,340
(01237 426778,
30 Penthouse
Fistral Beach, Cornwall
Overlooking Fistral Beach in Newquay,
this one benefits from stunning sea
views and a large roof-top terrace with a
hot tub. There’s a spacious open-plan
living area and a lovely terrace for
alfresco dining. Expect super-comfy
armchairs, super-king beds and good
bathrooms. It’s got a Cape Cod feel with
touches of coastal blue throughout, plus
the odd bright splash of modern art.
Details Three nights for eight costs from
£1,209, a week is £1,920-£4,000 (01242
31 Blue Beach House
Ilfracombe, Devon
Watch the boats come and go from
the patio of this terraced cottage
overlooking Ilfracombe harbour. There
is an open-plan living and dining area
with a sleek grey kitchen, Americanstyle fridge-freezer and wooden floors.
French doors open on to a glass Juliet
balcony from the first-floor lounge.
The three bedrooms are bright and fresh.
Go crabbing from the pier, explore the
Victorian Tunnels Beaches or walk up
to St Nicholas Chapel for lovely views.
Details A three-night break for
six costs £557-£1,819, a week is
£777-£2,595 (0345 2680785,
Best on a budget
32 Butter Hill Barn
Lynmouth, Devon
The only downside of this barn
conversion is that you share a bunk
bedroom sleeping six. It’s ideal for a
family or group of walkers wanting to
explore Exmoor. The high-ceilinged,
open-plan living area is fabulous,
with wooden floors, modern sofas,
a wood-burner and smart kitchen.
Surfers will love being near the
north-coast beach at Croyde.
Details A two-night break for six costs
£120-£160, a week is £420-£560
(0344 8002070,
33 Llwyn Celyn
Brithdir, Gwynedd
You can afford to splash out on some
adrenaline-fuelled activities while
staying at this handsome semi-detached
stone cottage. Go zip-wiring at
Llechwedd Slate Caverns or try Bounce
Below, home to the largest underground
trampoline in the world. The cottage is
set in the natural splendour of the
Snowdonia National Park, and the area
is also ideal for lots of free pursuits such
as walking and cycling. The interior is
modern and fresh, with oak furniture.
Details A three-night break for four
costs £249-£739, a week is £419-£739
(01244 500579,
34 Wolds Way
Driffield, East Yorkshire
The beauty of this two-bedroom
Georgian cottage in the Yorkshire
Wolds is that you have shared use of
an outdoor pool and tennis court. It is
comfortably furnished, with a dated yet
well-equipped kitchen and a sitting room
with open fire. Upstairs are a double and
twin bedroom. Castle Howard, Flamingo
Land and historic York are within easy
reach, as are plenty of hiking trails.
Details A three-night break for four
costs £283-£624, a week is £344-£624
(01237 459888,
35 The Malthouse
Bridgnorth, Shropshire
Rural views abound from this twobedroomed terraced malthouse on a
rare-breeds farm in superb walking and
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 29
42 Number 36 and the
Roxy Axbridge, Somerset
This converted Georgian coaching inn
comes with its own art deco 36-seat
cinema. The eclectic interior is dotted
with antique and vintage finds, including
a hat-box collection in the single room
and a cabinet of 1930s curios in one of
the four doubles. There is plenty of space
for adults and children to co-exist, with
a large open-plan living area, a wellequipped kitchen with an Italian 1930s
marble sink and a library with 4,000
books to browse. A pool table converts
into a table-tennis table. Walk or cycle in
the Mendip Hills or Somerset Levels, or
visit the cathedral city of Wells.
Details A three-night break for nine
costs £1,266-£1,450, a week is £2,543
year-round (
cycling country. The beamed living area
has wooden floors and exposed stone
walls with a leather suite and a modern
kitchen with pine table and chairs.
Upstairs is a light-filled double bedroom
with an iron bedstead, spacious twin
bedroom and two shower rooms. There
is an enclosed lawned garden.
Details A two-night break for four
costs £249-£337, a week is £489-£679
(0345 4986900,
36 Old Hall Barn
Hope, Derbyshire
This converted barn makes an ideal base
for a walking break in the Peak District.
Take the spectacular Ridge Walk from
Mam Tor to Lose Hill or head to the
rocky granite outcrop of Stanage Edge,
which has Peak views. After a day’s
sightseeing retire to this stone barn,
with its high-ceilinged living area,
leather sofas and wood-burner.
Details A three-night break for four
costs £259-£579, a week is £299-£579
(01244 356666,
37 The Wain House
Three Ashes, Herefordshire
This former cart house on a 200-acre
working farm has been converted into
a single-storey, two-bedroom cottage
that’s ideal for the elderly or those with
reduced mobility thanks to it being all
on one level. It has underfloor heating
throughout and a wood-burner in the
light and airy living space. Don’t miss
picturesque Symonds Yat, or visit
Hay-on-Wye, famed for its numerous
bookshops. And if you like angling, there
are coarse-fishing lakes on the farm.
Details A two-night break for four
costs £200-£280, a week is £275-£550
(01981 580442,
38 Mary’s Barn
Minstead, Hampshire
40 The Glass Lodge
Clowance Estate, Cornwall
43 Old Smock Mill
Benenden, Kent
This spacious barn conversion has
high ceilings, wooden floors and two
comfortably furnished bedrooms. Doors
lead to a private terrace and sprawling
lawns next to the owner’s thatched
cottage. It is ideal for active families,
with miles of trails near by to explore by
foot, bike or horseback. Visit the market
town of Lymington, the Beaulieu motor
museum and pretty Buckler’s Hard,
once famed for its shipbuilding.
Details A three-night break for
four costs £230-£250, a week
is £320-£400 (02380 811768,
This new triangular glass lodge is on
the 97-acre Clowance Estate. A huge
wall of A-shaped glass ensures that the
interior is light and airy, with French
doors leading out to the hot tub and
outdoor seating area. The living area is
very stylish, with an L-shape grey sofa,
bleached wooden floors and matching
bespoke grey kitchen. An en suite
master bedroom is in an adjoining
A-frame building with doors leading
to the deck. There are two more
bedrooms, one double/twin and one
twin sharing a family bathroom. The
estate is ideal for families, with an
indoor pool, gym, tennis courts,
spa and restaurant.
Details A three-night break
for six costs £825-£1,283, a
week is £1,238-£2,750 (0333
This stylishly converted four-storey
windmill has many of its original
features, including huge beams holding
the original giant spur wheel and the
sack hoist. A beautiful French king-size
bed is on one floor, with a small copper
sink and hanging space on a pulley.
A spiral staircase leads to a spacious
bathroom with a walk-in shower
and double-ended roll-top bath.
The lower-floor living area has a
bespoke kitchen and a door to the
large wraparound oak terrace. Barbecue
under a large apple tree in the garden.
Details A two-night break for
two costs £402 (
Best unusual
39 The
Moorhaven, Devon
Climb narrow, winding stairs to
reach the eight floors of this
stylish Victorian water tower
overlooking the beautiful South Hams
and Dartmoor. The seventh-floor
living room has exposed stone walls
and glass doors leading to a balcony
with jaw-dropping views. At the top is
a library with 360-degree views, ideal
for curling up with a good book. There’s
a cinema, with velvet chairs, film posters
and a huge screen, on the sixth floor.
A compact kitchen comes with a black
Smeg fridge-freezer, coffee machine and
exposed brick offset by dark grey walls.
Details A three-night break for
four costs £694-£1,417, a week
is £926-£1,890 (01872 553491,
41 Onderneming
Barge Pin Mill, Suffolk
This 100-year-old barge on the River
Orwell features a surprisingly spacious
— and contemporary — interior. The
wood-panelled living area has a vintage
leather sofa, leather banquette, original
floorboards, portholes, wood-burner and
a bespoke dark grey kitchen. A second
kitchen and dining area is upstairs in the
light-filled wheelhouse. There are three
bedrooms. If you tire of the watery
views on deck, take a walk along the
wood-fronted shoreline, keeping an eye
out for birds. Pin Mill is tiny, with an
excellent pub, gallery and yacht club.
Details A two-night break for
six costs £470-£674, a week is
£1,000-£1,800 (02380 811768,
44 The Found
Bawdsey, Suffolk
This beautiful Martello tower, built to
defend the country from Napoleonic
forces in the 1800s, has been given
a contemporary overhaul, with three
floors wrapped round a stunning central
brick shaft. Climb a spiral staircase
to reach the top-floor living area, where
the windows provide 360-degree views
of the coast and huge sliding doors lead
to a terrace with a fire pit and
Moroccan-style seating. The bespoke
kitchen includes a circular island under
one of the skylights. A snug area on the
middle floor has a wood-burner, stylish
sofa and shaggy rugs. Three double
bedrooms, including an en suite master,
are on the ground floor.
Details A three-night break for six costs
£1,2500-£1,800, a week is £1,650-£3,500
(01637 882014,
Continued next page
30 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
49 The Reading Room
Best for couples
45 Supernova Skye
The friendly owners of this 200-year-old
converted chapel in Broughton Gifford
leave guests complimentary local bacon,
sausages, eggs and fresh bread as well
as a choice of six loose-leaf teas and
Lavazza coffee. Stairs lead from the
living area, with its wood-burner,
wooden floors and huge windows, to the
mezzanine level, with a king-size Hypnos
bed. Numerous historic houses, such as
Great Chalfield Manor and Lacock
Abbey, are near by, as is Bath.
Details A two-night break for two
costs £270-£370, a week is
£850-£1,000 (
Sheep graze in the fields surrounding
this stylishly converted chapel
overlooking Loch Harport. The loft-like
living area feels very cosy, with faux furs
and underfloor heating. Climb the
bespoke spiral staircase to the kitchen
and another lounge, with picture
windows framing the views. Downstairs
is a king-size bedroom, with en suite
shower, sauna and a double-ended bath.
Go hiking in the Cuillin Mountains or
stroll down the road to the Old Inn.
Details A three-night break for two costs
£925-£1,325, a week is £1,325-£1,975
(01637 882014,
46 Fallen Angel
Mousehole, Cornwall
Walk through an elaborately carved
Moroccan door into subtropical gardens
to reach this romantic hideaway.
Everything in this black wooden cabin is
bespoke, from the sandblasted oak
kitchen to the brushed steel roll-top
bath, where you can gaze out at Mount’s
Bay through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Use a remote control to lower the blinds
in the bedroom, with its “floating” kingsize bed adorned with a feather topper
and Egyptian cotton linen. Modern art
decorates the walls and there is a cute,
egg-shaped wood-burner.
Details A three-night break for
two costs £735-£885, a week is
£1,715-£2,065 (
Travel 31
50 West Gate Lodge
Ripon, North Yorkshire
47 Lavendrye Barn
Blakeney, Gloucestershire
48 Nant Las
Dolgellau, Gwynedd
This chic converted barn is in the pretty
gardens of a grade II listed manor house
on the edge of the Forest of Dean. The
open-plan living area has a magnificent
feature wall of exposed stone behind
the wood-burner, complementing the
funky contemporary furniture and
sleek little kitchen. French doors lead
out to a walled garden with bucolic
views. A light-filled bedroom is on a
mezzanine with tongue-and-groove
Details A three-night break for six
costs £385-£518, a week is £550-£740
(01227 464958,
Drive up a winding track through the
woods to this pink-timber cottage,
on a country estate in Snowdonia.
A 19th-century observatory, it is a
great place to stargaze from: there
is no light pollution. During the
day, enjoy views across the valley.
The living room has a woodburner and French doors to a
veranda, and the bedroom has an
antique iron bed. Walks include one
to Rhaeadr Ddu waterfalls.
Details A three-night break for two
costs £239-£496, a week is £367-£763
(0344 8002070,
Guests at this one-bedroom Victorian
cottage can wander the grounds and
ruins of Fountains Abbey outside visiting
hours. The newly restored cottage was
built with stone from the 12th-century
abbey, and has handcrafted oak
furniture and diamond-leaded
windows. On balmy days head to
your own strip of riverbank garden
bordering the Skell. Budding artists
can borrow the easel and other
materials, ideal for painting the
abbey at sunset. Or explore the 700acre Studley Royal Park, including the
Seven Bridges Valley walk.
Details A three-night break for two
costs £269-£677, a week is £395-£995
(0344 8002070,
the times Saturday March 10 2018
32 Travel
Babylonstoren farmhouse
Luxury travel
Welcome to the
Cape’s exquisite
wineland retreats
Lisa Grainger enjoys the tranquil scenery and gourmet
food at three stunning estate hotels in South Africa
ot many hotels have a
duck whisperer who
leads a flock around,
harvesting snails. Or a
walled garden with an
“insect hotel” to
accommodate passing
bugs. Or a restaurant whose three salads
are described on the menu as “yellow,
red or green”. But Babylonstoren isn’t
your average hotel. In fact, if it weren’t
for the fact that there are 22 suites
dotted around its 500-acre grounds, you
wouldn’t think it was a hotel at all, but
an earthy, South African version of
Petersham Nurseries or Daylesford
Organic — without the sky-high prices.
When Karen Roos, the former editor
of South African Elle Decoration, and her
telecoms tycoon husband, Koos Bekker,
bought the run-down farm outside
Franschhoek in 2007, they didn’t intend
to open a hotel, but a much-needed
private country retreat in which she
could use her decorating skills and he
could escape the stresses of running his
$2 billion Naspers media group.
Having travelled the world staying in
exquisite homes and gardens, the couple
knew precisely the style of garden they’d
like to create. “We wanted the structure
of a French garden like Versailles,”
explains Roos, pouring just-picked herbal
The culinary gardens at Babylonstoren
There’s a
carpet of pink
blossom and
lime leaves
in the spring
tea from a sleek glass pot. “We wanted
every plant to be edible, to reference the
Dutch East India Company’s original
garden in Cape Town. And there was
only one man we knew who had that
sort of vision: the French architect
Patrice Taravella, who owns Prieuré
Notre-Dame d’Orsan, near Bourges.”
Three years after Taravella was
persuaded to create the formal garden
from scratch — keeping just one tree,
an old wild Schinus terebinthifolia
peppertree, and transforming eight acres
of former vineyards into a multicoloured
edible garden — the couple recognised
that it wouldn’t be right to keep this
garden to themselves. On the
foundations of 17th-century former farm
workers’ cottages they constructed
authentic-looking Cape Dutch-style
guest rooms with modern glass kitchens.
And in 2010 they opened their dream
farm to the public.
Looking out into the garden from my
suite, with its gables and thatched roof,
thick whitewashed stone walls and
polished concrete floors, it seems
extraordinary that this visionary
horticultural project was started just a
decade ago. Between me and the rocky
fynbos-covered hills that loom purply
blue on the horizon stretch hundreds
of acres of vineyards and fruit trees, a
delicate carpet of pink blossom and lime
leaves in the spring sunlight.
Around the stream in the valley, from
which water flows in channels designed
by French Huguenot settlers in the
1680s, more than 7,000 clivia lilies bloom
beneath wild olive trees and gnarled
oaks. And in front of my room lies a grid
of ordinary and extraordinary culinary
and medicinal plants: neatly clipped
parterres of lavender and rosemary;
pergolas of white roses and dense beds of
lurid orange marigolds.
Although there are flowers in this
garden, it is the edible plants that are the
main attraction: rows of sunburnt
chillies and giant purple-stemmed chard;
walls of climbing marrows and orange
pumpkins; exquisitely pruned hedges of
espaliered peaches and apples. There’s a
cactus maze and Cape Dutch-style
beehives. And rather wonderfully, guests
are encouraged to pick the produce and
cook it in their cottages.
Although that’s the theory, most
people coming to Babylonstoren won’t
pick their own lunch, but will sample
the sensational, honest farm-to-fork
cuisine served in the Greenhouse
restaurant — where light snacks are
served, picnic-style, in the vintage
conservatory — or in the farm’s main
restaurant, Babel.
Almost everything on the menu is
produced on the farm, with an emphasis
on fruit, flowers and vegetables — with
meat and fish offered as sides. (After a
yellow salad of papaya, veg carpaccio,
yellow flowers and blood oranges
conjured up by the genius food stylist
Maranda Engelbrecht, one may have a
cauliflower soup with smoked artichokes
and gorgonzola ice cream, a side helping
of mussels, and then a lavender
meringue sandwich with matcha-tea
ice cream and candied flowers — all
exquisitely presented.)
Even when you’ve finished eating,
there’s more on which to feast your
senses in the nearby farm outbuildings
— a cheese shop, a bakery, a perfumery,
a deli and a bookshop. All are jampacked with things that somehow you
have to fit in your suitcase: Cape
gooseberry conserve, farm-dried biltong,
botanical-print linens, olive-wood
breadboards, the Babel cookbook . . .
The glorious thing about staying
overnight is that, after the crowds have
left at 5pm, you have the property
to yourself to stroll around the
lavender-scented paths, to cycle through
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 33
A suite at Babylonstoren
The Delaire Graff estate
vineyards, to hike up Babel Hill to watch
the sunset with a glass of one of the
farm’s wines, to swim in the old
reservoir, to soak in a bath fragranced
with a tussie-mussie (a muslin bag of
fresh herbs) or, if you are lucky, to
hunker down in Bekker and Roos’s
farmhouse, which they occasionally
let out.
There can be few homes in which
historical architecture and modern
furnishings have been so beautifully
brought together. But Roos, much like
Inès de la Fressange in France, is
someone who brings out the best of her
culture in the most elegant way. So while
she has kept the structure of the 1777
manor house just as it would have been,
the furnishings are a mix of slick
The library at Babylonstoren
designer pieces by Philippe Starck and
Antonio Citterio, and eccentric items
that she has surrounded by collections
of butterflies, books and maps.
There is dinner to eat round an Aga in
the farmhouse kitchen, power showers
to wash away the farm dust (once the
Cape’s serious drought is over) and,
finally, antique beds to collapse into.
There are plenty of other delights
to discover near by. A few decades ago
the Cape winelands were pretty, if
somnolent, rural backwaters visited by
few international tourists. As South
Africa emerged from the isolation of
apartheid, though, chefs started to arrive,
then hip winemakers and artists and,
when tourism started to take off, wealthy
investors, who recognised that for the
Need to
Lisa Grainger was a
guest of Red Savannah
(01242 787800,, which
has seven nights in Cape
Town and the winelands
from £3,698pp, with two
nights at Babylonstoren
and Delaire Graff, one
night at Leeu House and
two nights at Ellerman
House (all B&B), car hire
and BA flights
price of a small house in London they
could own a historic estate in the Cape.
Today the pretty mountain-fringed
valleys buzz with smart parties and
cultural activities. Not only are
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek
home to eight of the country’s top 30
restaurants and more than 100 estates in
which to sample wine, but they also have
galleries, sculpture gardens, private
museums and elegant farm shops to
cater for the influx of wealthy visitors.
Under the direction of Hanneli
Rupert, the daughter of the late
Richemont tycoon Anton, for instance,
La Motte estate has become one of the
most glamorous destinations for starlit
music concerts. Hanneli’s brother
Johann has built four elegant Cape
museums on the family’s L’Ormarins
vineyard for his late father’s priceless
collection of classic cars, from simple
three-wheelers to Le Mans winning
Bugattis. The Swiss-based Hess family
have constructed a modern art museum
on the Glen Carlou wine farm to house
some of their 1,000-strong artworks,
including a few by the British artist
Andy Goldsworthy.
Perhaps best known of all of the
high-end estates is the small but
beautifully formed Delaire Graff, on the
crest of the Helshoogte Pass that links
Stellenbosch with Franschhoek. Its
owner, the diamond magnate Laurence
Graff, is known in the jewellery business
for wanting only the best (he spent a
record $8.6 million on a single Burmese
ruby in 2014) and there is no other hotel
in South Africa with as fine an art
collection as his.
Enter the lobby and Vladimir
Tretchikoff’s iconic Chinese Girl stares
down at you beyond a wall of orchids.
Wander into the soaring spaces of the
David Collins designed restaurant and
there are William Kentridge portraits,
Deborah Bell bronzes, Lionel Smit
paintings. Even in the indigenous
gardens designed by the star
horticulturalist Keith Kirsten you’ll come
across a pair of Dylan Lewis cheetahs
prowling the lawns and a man-sized
sandstone sculpture byAnton Smit
looking out over the craggy
If Babylonstoren is like a smooth
pebble — tactile and warm and earthy
— then Delaire Graff is like a glittering
emerald: formal and bewitching, if
slightly cold. With its elegant interiors,
sleek spa and gourmet Indochine
restaurant (vindaloo Scotch egg, anyone,
or grilled octopus with smoked eggplant
and crispy salted beef?), it’s the sort of
place in which you may bump into a
fashion mogul or a smart European
family who’ve flown in on a private jet
to select some wines.
It’s a place in which everything is
pristine. Not only are the restaurants’
organic vegetables and herbs grown on
the farm, but so are the pesticide-free
grapes, whose juice is pumped by gravity
into some of the finest cellars in the
southern hemisphere. Even the rooms
are not really rooms, but soothing
creamy linen-draped contemporary
cottages, with their own vineyard-facing
terraces and plunge pools, beside which
you could lie reading all day before
seeing the sun set in the distance beside
Table Mountain.
Some billionaires prefer a more
homely ambiance, like that at Leeu
Estates, owned by Analjit Singh, which
I visit next. The Indian health mogul
never intended to settle in the Cape. A
chance diversion into the vineyards in
2010 showed him a part of Africa where
he felt “a deep sense of belonging, of
energy and a sense of place”.
Since then he has bought three
vineyards that now comprise Leeu
Estates — Leeu House and Le Quartier
Français hotels in Franschhoek, and
the award-winning Mullineux wines
— and has launched the TukTuk
Microbrewery as well as the town’s
first north Indian restaurant.
The main house on Leeu Estates is his
home, which he is happy to share with
guests. Unlike Babylonstoren, this
double-storey property was built from
scratch on the outline of the old manor
house — hence its contemporary,
slightly suburban feel. Within the house
six suites have enormous super-comfy
beds, velvety sofas, marble-lined
bathrooms and fireplaces. In a cosy
reading room are books and games to
borrow and African artworks to admire.
Next door there’s an architecturally
innovative spa featuring African-style
dry-stone walls. And surrounding all of
this is a pretty lawned garden set around
a mammoth Angus Taylor sculpture and
extensive rose beds.
Most recently he has renovated three
Cape Dutch-style cottages, which to my
mind are the nicest places to stay on the
estate, having the same access but more
privacy than the main house. They also
come with their own staff, who, on my
visit, couldn’t have been more charming,
whether it was delivering sensational
lunch (cured Malay fish with vegetable
escabèche and fynbos vinaigrette
followed by passionfruit soufflé) or
accompanying me on explorations along
fynbos-lined paths heavy with the smell
of wildflowers and the hum of bees.
But then, as Singh puts it, “South
Africa has the friendliest people who
have made me feel truly welcome. I have
been all over the world and had no idea
that there was this little gem here. I feel
incredibly lucky to have discovered it.”
As am I. It isn’t every week that I get
to stay in three billionaires’ homes.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
34 Travel
Bikes, boats and volcanoes on
Paul Bloomfield
goes island-hopping
off the northeast
coast of Sicily
ian Se
Mt Ettna
10 miles
parks flew when I met Iddu. An
apricot sun melted into the
Tyrrhenian Sea as day drowsed
into dusk; the Milky Way’s stellar scarf flared across the heavens. I stifled a shiver — not from
the unexpectedly chilly breeze,
but from the menace of Iddu’s outbursts.
He grumbled. He roared. He thundered
with clattering booms like a train trundling over a metal bridge. He fumed, he
spat fire, he hurled rocks. But then he’s a
legendarily ill-tempered fellow whose
wrath erupts with metronomic regularity.
Iddu, you’ll have guessed, is a volcano.
Inhabitants of Stromboli speak of their
eponymous peak not as an it, but a he — in
Sicilian, iddu — a youth with a fiery
temperament. (Etna, in contrast, is beloved as the mother of fertile eastern Sicily.)
That contretemps on Stromboli’s crater
marked the memorable midpoint of an
eight-day voyage exploring the Aeolian
Islands on a new group cycling and hiking
tour. The seven diverse specks comprising
this tempting archipelago off Sicily’s
northeastern coast are increasingly popular as an island-hopping option. But while
most visitors arrive on ferries or yacht
charters, I was joining a live-aboard tour
on a classic Turkish caique. This
traditional wooden vessel, best known for
“blue cruises” along Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegean coasts, is now being
pressed into service as a floating B&B on
the Tyrrhenian.
So it was that a few days before my
encounter with Iddu I’d joined seven other
passengers, of three nationalities, and our
perky Sicilian guide, Vera, aboard the Sundial, which would be our home for the
week and the base from which we’d launch
sorties by bike and on foot.
It’s a peach of an idea: unpack your bags
in a comfortable en suite cabin, soak up the
rays on deck as the boat chugs between
islands, going ashore to pedal off and explore sandy strands, winsome villages and,
of course, steaming craters and fumaroles.
Aside from the volcanic action, the islands
entice with delectable cuisine, seductive
waters and four millennia of history.
We began our tour in Milazzo harbour,
near the Strait of Messina, where mainland Italy’s toe puts the boot into Sicily.
The journey from Catania airport had
been less than promising, winding past the
city’s industrial outskirts and shoreline oil
refinery, but its old core is charming
enough, dominated by an ancient crag-top
castle. As dusk fell I grabbed a goldstandard gelato and joined the traditional
passeggiata on the broad waterfront esplanade. Lovers smooched, old men gossiped
and kids scooted rings round parents. In
short, a classic Sicilian evening.
The next morning our cadre took a
slightly more rapid turn on a test-pedal
along the 7km (4.5 miles) Milazzo Peninsula, a crooked finger beckoning at the
Aeolians. We scooted past fishermen
lounging alongside impromptu stalls
laden with langoustines, squid and gur-
nard, and along an undulating coast road
lined with oleander, fig, almond and olive
trees. Near the peninsula’s tip we ditched
the bikes and took to a rocky walking trail,
enjoying a brief foraging lesson from Vera.
“Wild prickly pears, the ones with long,
vicious spines, aren’t good to eat,” she said.
“But you’ll see a few cultivated plants here:
the white ones are tastiest.” Also sprouting
alongside the path were the wan, aromatic
fingers of wormwood, which is used in
absinthe, and ivy-esque vines with tiny
emerald buds. “Capers,” explained Vera.
“After they flower, their bulbous pistils are
harvested as cucunci — caperberries.”
At the very tip of the peninsula we
plunged into a limpid rock pool rather
ambitiously dubbed the Piscina di Venere
— the “Pool of Venus”. Though perhaps
not quite as celestial as billed, its bathwarm waters are sheltered by volcanic
rocks from the breezes that whip up whitecapped waves on the exposed western
shore, providing a delightful spot for a dip.
Venus isn’t the only deity in these parts,
as I soon discovered. The islands are the
stomping ground of the Greek god Aeolus,
the keeper of winds, which he let out for an
unseasonal romp — and for two days ships
were confined to harbour. Instead of
sailing, we pedalled along the north coast
to colourful fishing villages and explored
Milazzo’s ancient hilltop citadel that shelters the venerable old quarter.
The Alhambra it ain’t, perhaps, but the
citadel offers an absorbing snapshot of
2,500 years of history, highlighting the
peninsula’s strategic importance to the
Greeks, Arabs, Byzantines, Normans,
Aragonese and others. Plus, the panoramic vista from the summit of the Norman
tower is a belter, taking in Etna and most of
the Aeolians, as well as the city and its
sweep of sandy coast to the west.
Eventually, Aeolus called off his charges
and we set out for Stromboli. The face
presented to visitors pulling up at the tiny
dock at Scari wears a smile, the volcano’s
pleasingly symmetrical cone — its name is
derived from the Greek or Sicilian for
“spinning top” — exhaling gentle wisps of
ashy steam. Cars don’t clog the main
village’s narrow, peach-scented alleys;
instead, electric golf buggies and small
three-wheeler trucks provide transport.
Walking, though, is the most pleasant way
to explore these peaceful streets, beneath
the shade of more oleanders, hibiscus and
bougainvillea, with only occasional
tsunami warning signs to remind one of
the grumbling giant above.
Walking also facilitates the most popular activity here: climbing to marvel at
Iddu’s rage. He was reliably tetchy. Indeed,
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 35
the beautiful Aeolian Islands
Stromboli volcano
Panarea Island
A Greek-style villa on Panarea
the regular mildly explosive activity, with
fountains of incandescent cinder spat out
every ten minutes or so, has lent its name
to a volcanological archetype: the Strombolian eruption.
For maximum ooh-and-aah enjoyment
of the pyrotechnics you need to tackle the
steep haul to arrive after sundown. So it
was that at 5pm I joined the conga line of
tourists tramping up the black ash slopes,
looking for all the world like a train of
termites scuttling up their mound. Come
9pm I was perched just below the 924m
summit, peering across at Iddu’s mouth, a
vent from which streaks of fire and
thunderous tattoos emitted furiously.
If Stromboli is for thrill-seekers, the
neighbouring island of Panarea attracts a
more refined clientele. Unlike its fractious
sibling, the smallest of the Aeolians isn’t a
lofty cone, but the surviving rim fragment
of a vast collapsed caldera, the fire in its
belly long extinguished. At a stretch you
might call it the Sicilian Santorini: Greekstyle, whitewashed, blue-doored villas line
steep hillsides, while yachts of the wellheeled bob off the compact golden crescent of Cala Zimmari.
It’s a delightfully undulating half-hour
stroll from the harbour to that beach along
cobbled lanes, past the bulky, vanilla-hued
church of San Pietro (and the notably
well-kept helipad). Beyond the sun-worshippers, I climbed steps to the island’s historic gem, the prehistoric village at Punta
Milazzese, an idyllic promontory on which
a Bronze Age community built its roundhouses. It is isolated and windswept, but as
the sun sparkled on the glass-clear waters
lapping its private cove I couldn’t argue
with the location. Today the only inhabitants are camera-shy lizards that scuttle
among the partially reconstructed walls.
In the harbour I cooled off with a delectable watermelon granita — an artisan
Slush Puppie, if you will — before sailing
on to Lipari, the Aeolians’ tourism and
trade epicentre.
Also guarded by a brooding castle, this
one established in Neolithic times, Lipari
town is awash with Sicilian charm and
verve. A 25km cycle around the island —
the longest ride on the itinerary — visits
the defunct pumice quarries where the
volcanic rock was extracted and rewards
with views across the archipelago.
Back on foot that evening I wandered
past pastel-toned houses lining Lipari
harbour, where the Sundial bobbed at
anchor, to reach the old quarter, with
stepped alleys steeply winding up to the
bastion, giving a whiff of a Moroccan
medina. This is the place to taste the
island’s bounty too: shopfront baskets
groan with mountains of capers and
cucunci, of course, plus sun-blushed
tomatoes, chestnuts, olives and oregano;
seafood and peaches are peddled from the
backs of mobile stalls, to be washed down
with orangey malvasia dessert wine, the
product of vines burgeoning on the fertile
volcanic slopes of nearby Salina.
One last day, one last volcano, but not
just any volcano — the fumes belching
from the southernmost island are, the
Romans believed, smoke from the forge of
Vulcan, the god of fire and metalworking.
Since the last big eruption in 1888-90,
Vulcano has largely slumbered, and our
ascent on glittering silicate sand to the
main vent — a mere 300m — was much
easier than the trek to Stromboli, albeit
smellier. At the crater’s rim I padded gingerly among sulphur-yellow fumaroles,
eggy steam scalding my calves and anointing my clothes with an aroma that’s yet to
wash out. Or perhaps that was the result of
swimming among more fumaroles in the
waters off the beach below.
That evening, back in Milazzo, I donned
my shoes, still caked with volcanic sand,
for a final seafront promenade. And that
glittering coating — along with my
pleasantly weary legs — was a fine
reminder of the joys of the previous week:
boats, bikes, boots and beautiful islands.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
36 Travel
United States
Beaches and gators: our wild
Grace Bradberry
and her son enjoy
a tour of Florida
well away from
all the theme parks
Bridge Street Pier, Anna Maria Island
St P
Anna Maria Island
Fort M
10 miles
d s
e weren’t having
much luck on our
alligator hunt. We
were on day six of
our trip and had
not so much as
glimpsed one —
despite having driven to the Everglades
and taken a dispiriting tour of a mangrove
swamp, where nothing but mosquitoes
seemed to survive. When I first discussed
a Florida trip with my seven-year-old son,
sighting gators had been at the top of the
list (he didn’t even mention the Mouse).
So here we were, on Sanibel Island, a spit
of sand off Florida’s Gulf Coast, in the
“Ding” Darling nature reserve, on the north fly down here in the winter — but
two-mile indigo trail (you can hike the not in the glitzy way of Palm Beach or
trails for $1, or drive through the reserve Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago.
It also offers its own string of barrier
for $5). We had barely set off when a stern
sign warned us not to approach, harass or islands — speckles of sand separated from
feed the alligators, penalty $500. On either the mainland by broad, shallow bays and
side of the trail were trees leading to puckered by saltwater inlets and swamps.
waterways and I looked down, suddenly A series of causeways link the islands to
apprehensive that an alligator might be the mainland, and sometimes to each
about to charge us (did you know that over other, so there’s no messing about with
boats — you can island-hop by road,
short distances they’re as fast raceand that was precisely what we
horses? We did after reading
planned to do.
up in the visitors’ centre).
Time was tight so we
Part way along, a
had a clear plan: fly into
wooden bridge led to
Tampa, in the northan observation platwest of the state, and
form over the river.
drive down the Gulf
We gazed out. Two
Coast past St Petersherons were nestburg to Sarasota,
ing in the trees, but
from where we’d
beyond that I could
explore the first set of
see nothing. “There,
islands — Siesta Key,
there!” called my son.
Longboat Key and up
And about 20ft ahead,
to Anna Maria Island.
in the water, a knobbled
A pelican on Anna
From there we would drive
back was gliding through
Maria Island
south to Fort Myers Beach
the water, eyes just above the
(part of the barrier island Estero
surface. And then the gator was
gone, its tail disappearing into under- from where we squeezed in our day trip to
the Everglades), then make the short hop
growth on the far bank.
Longed for though the sighting was, it to Sanibel and Captiva, which are linked by
was by no means the most magical nature a short causeway. If this sounds an
moment of our holiday. For those who exhausting way to spend seven days, it
view Florida as a kind of paved-over para- wasn’t — there was remarkably little
dise full of tack and theme parks, the Gulf driving involved, an awful lot of beach time
Coast offers a counterargument. It is lush, and plenty of wildlife.
If you’re not careful, spotting Florida’s
wild, subtropical, laid-back. Yes, it is
moneyed — snowbird retirees from the more outlandish creatures can become a
bit of an obsession. Despite the many
warning signs — about everything from
low-flying owls to black panthers — the
state’s beasts can prove elusive, none more
so than the manatees, or sea cows. These
hippo-like creatures populate Florida’s
shallow salt waters, grazing on vegetation,
yet for all their bulk they’re difficult to
spot, rarely needing to break the surface
for air. We managed to see two on our first
day, but only by cheating and making the
short drive from Sarasota, over John
Ringling Causeway (named after the
circus founder) to Mote Aquarium on Lido
Key. There, wallowing slowly in their tank,
munching on romaine lettuces, we saw
Hugh and Buffett. So while my son
obsessed about gators, I became fixated on
sighting a manatee in the wild.
From Lido Key we drove through glitzy
Longboat Key, with its golf courses and
private beaches, and on to Anna Maria
Island. There couldn’t be a starker
contrast. While Longboat Key is all about
exclusivity (its few public beaches have
rules preventing you changing on them),
Anna Maria has a rustic, laid-back feel. Its
painted wooden houses are on stilts, and if
you want to stop at one of its shell-strewn
beaches you simply pull up on to a verge.
There’s even a little pier for fishing.
Yet even on this strip of an island, only a
little more than half a mile wide, it’s wise to
pay attention to the map. Just as I was
about to pick a restaurant (there are many)
I found us driving over one of the causeways in the opposite direction. Heading
back on to the island was a long queue of
Need to
Grace Bradberry was a
guest of America As You
Like It (020 8742 8299,,
which has a seven-night
holiday from £958pp,
including flights from
London to Tampa, car
hire, three nights at
Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, two
nights at Outrigger Beach
Resort at Fort Myers and
two nights at Casa Ybel
Beach Resort on Sanibel
Island, based on a family
of four travelling together
Further information,
traffic. We cut our losses and parked next
to a garishly decorated camper van and tall
ship with rigged mooring, and ate lunch in
Cortez, one of Florida’s last remaining
fishing villages, where we sat on the deck
of the Seafood Shack. Munching fish
sandwiches from a basket, we watched
pelicans dive-bomb the water, then a line
of spinning dolphins arching out of the
water and slapping down again with joy.
While Sarasota and its surroundings are
refined, Fort Myers Beach, farther to the
south, is a loud, brash seaside resort with
motel-style hotels and a string of thatched
beach bars blasting out music. If you tire of
being among wealthy retirees and long for
the noise of young American families and
couples, this is your place. It was a relief to
hit the road and make the 90-minute drive
south to Everglades City. Here, to
maximise our chances of seeing wildlife, I
had booked two boat tours, only to be
rewarded by seeing . . . absolutely nothing,
although my pulse did race as a sign
announced: “Slow-speed manatee zone.”
More fruitful was our trip to the tiny
town of Captiva the next day, with its
18th-century wooden Chapel by the Sea,
past a sign announcing: “Golf buggies
allowed on road from this point.” Finally,
the road ended in a car park and we walked
through a gap on to a pale beach. My son
picked up a shell. It was a good seven
inches long and pristine, shaped like the fin
of a fish. He gathered another, then
another and another. Later, back on Sanibel, at our hotel’s shell-washing station
(yes, really), we would see from a poster
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 37
trip in the Sunshine State
Sanibel Island
that his haul included a rough pen shell, a
lightning whelk and a horse conch.
Standing in our subtropical paradise, the
waves scudding along in front of us, it was
difficult to believe that we were in Florida,
a mere 20 miles from the criss-crossing
highways and mega-pharmacies of
Fort Myers. It’s not hard to see what
drew the artist Robert Rauschenberg
here from New York — he arrived in 1968
and stayed for the rest of his life.
An alligator in “Ding”
Darling nature reserve
The next morning, after we had seen our
gator at the “Ding” Darling reserve, I felt
that we were “done” with going to look at
things. Strong morning winds meant that
we skipped a planned kayaking trip. We
dropped into Jerry’s supermarket — worth
mentioning for the parrots in outsized cages
that shout at you as you enter — and headed
for the pool, followed by a delicious evening
meal of mahi at the Key Lime Bistro.
As the light faded we noticed a stream of
Fort Myers
people ambling down the road towards the
beach. We followed them and it seemed as
if everyone on the island was massed
there, throwing balls, splashing through
the waves or sitting on chairs gazing at the
spectacular red sky.
Gulf Coast sunsets are an event, I
discovered. People congregate for them,
plan evenings around them, make a thing
of them. Over five nights we took in the full
range, joining a mass of humanity to watch
the sun turn blazing red, to the sound of
hip-hop at Siesta Beach near Sarasota and
the perhaps more easy-going sunset at the
Ritz-Carlton Beach Club, where we sat
round a thatched hut drinking cocktails
(and mocktails) to the sound of Bob Marley. At Fort Myers Beach we listened to a
band covering Bruce Springsteen, then got
horribly lost walking back along the beach
(all those thatched bars looked the same).
But we definitely saved the best sunset
till last. On an impulse I booked an evening
boat trip on Tarpon Bay, alongside the
wildlife sanctuary. I have to admit here
that I was nurturing one last hope of seeing
a manatee in the wild; with an average
depth of only 4ft, Tarpon Bay is what’s
known as a manatee pasture. With a
passionate veteran guide, it was an
evening of astonishing sights: a young
bald eagle caught a fish in front of us before
swooping off; a flock of ibis took off like a
cloud over a small island; a royal tern
sat on a marker; and a pod of dolphins
played alongside.
Then, at Woodrings Point, the guide
called for quiet. He had seen a manatee
surface briefly in the shallow between the
boat and land. We stayed for five minutes
and I peered obsessively over the side as
the sky turned red. It never resurfaced.
Still, next time, I thought, next time.
has produced a new work. Also
look out for dance projects,
young artists’ expo and the
solar-powered cinema.
reasons to
visit Valletta
A cultural spectacular is taking place this year in the historic
capital of Malta. There’s never been a better time to visit
alta’s picturesque
capital Valletta can lay
claim to being among
the most civilised
of cities.Anyone who knows
the history of the elegant
Mediterranean island will say it has
an enviable pedigree. Founded by
the Knights of St John in the 16th
century, it was a “city built by
gentlemen for gentlemen”.
Today, captivating Valletta offers
a mix of splendid architecture,
fascinating history and a long list
of things to see and enjoy.
The city has Unesco world
heritage status and this year is the
European Capital of Culture,
with a packed programme of events
throughout 2018.
Malta is an attractive
destination in which to take
a break: it is just three hours from
the UK, it boasts more than 300
days of sunshine a year... and
most people speak English.
If you are looking for a cultural
escape, then Valletta is officially
the place to be. The city already has
a great arts reputation. As Capital
of Culture, however, there
is Valletta 2018, a programme
of events featuring 1,000 artists,
performers and writers, plus a huge
closing spectacular in December.
Muza is a national art gallery
opening this year, and Mario
Sammut, the Maltese composer,
Valletta’s architecture has been
shaped by history, from the grand
buildings of the Knights of St John,
to the Lascaris War Rooms,
tunnels crucial to Malta’s defence
in the Second World War.
Most spectacular is St John’s
Co-Cathedral, which dates from
the 1570s; one of Europe’s most
important baroque buildings, its
interior is covered with gold leaf
and contains two paintings by
Caravaggio, including the
Beheading of St John the Baptist.
Visit the Grand Master’s Palace
for a glimpse into the history of
the knights. For an overview
of the island’s past, watch the
Malta Experience or Malta 5D’s
impressive commentaries.
Plenty of influences are at play in
Maltese food, which reflects the
island’s varied history: watch for
Arabic, French, Italian and British
flavours. Gourmets should make
a beeline for restaurants such as
Panorama or the Harbour Club,
which overlook Grand Harbour.
Favourites such as stews, trifles or
cannoli desserts, giant Maltese
breads and pastizzi mean you can
feast cheaply while sipping on local
wines. Later, book a vineyard trip
to sample wine made from gellewza
and girgentina, the Maltese grapes.
Grand Harbour for hospitality
and views. Alternatively, try
Paceville, a taxi ride away. There
are clubs and bars for every taste,
from Havana to Hugo’s Lounge.
The hugely popular Isle of MTV
festival takes place every June.
The quaint, cobbled streets of the
capital feature quirky independent
shops selling everything from
cheeses to hand-made clothes
and art – it is perfect browsing
territory. Take a rest in the Upper
Barrakka Gardens — you can
review your purchases while
soaking in the harbour views.
The Malta International Arts
Festival runs from June 29 to July
15. Two days later, the International
Jazz Festival begins — and don’t
miss the one-day Malta Calls dance
event on July 20. Fans of techno
music will have a treat on August
14-16 when the Glitch festival goes
sonic, while Pride turns Valletta
rainbow-coloured in September.
Be sure to check events before
booking your break.
Fly “Go Light” with Air Malta from
London Southend, from £35
one-way, including taxes and
charges. Subject to availability.
* Full terms and conditions at
Central Valletta has glorious clubs
and bars. Head for skinny Strait
Street or the waterfront at the
For more details go to
the times Saturday March 10 2018
38 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 39
The River Lee in Cork
A weekend in . . .
Cork, Ireland
ermentation may be a hot
new food trend for 2018, but
they have been on to it for
years in Cork. Perhaps it is
the prevalence of locally
sourced rainwater, the key
ingredient used to make the
tasty, fizzy kombucha and kimchi broth
with Irish leeks that I’m handed in paper
cups by the Munster-based food business
My Goodness in the English Market.
Then there is the plentiful fresh cow’s
milk — the in-house micro-dairy at
Ballymaloe Cookery School has long
been turning out kefir.
Eating well and eating local is not
about Instagrammable food fads in
Ireland’s second city — or, as residents
would have it, the “real capital” — but a
well-established way of life. However,
restaurants, artisan coffee shops and
micro-breweries are springing up all the
time to cater to a growing young
demographic, making it a popular new
gastronomy hub — and one that is very
easy to visit for a weekend of grazing.
Last year Co Cork was named Ireland’s
premier foodie destination, despite its
diminutive size — the population of its
capital is only a tenth of Dublin’s.
Everyone I meet seems to know where
their food comes from. Over dinner in
the Oyster Tavern, when I ask whether
any of my plate is Irish, the waitress
does not hesitate: my oyster starter was
harvested by K O’Connell, the fish
merchant who runs the counter next
door; my chicken cordon bleu is stuffed
with scamorza made by Toons Bridge
Dairy in west Cork; and the meat is from
Chicken Inn, a butchers run by the
Mulcahy family for decades.
A food tour is a good way to begin my
weekend of eating and get my bearings;
the city is on an island in the middle of
two strands of the River Lee, a waterway
so deep that dolphins and whales
sometimes swim up it. My guide, Alice,
from Fab Food Trails, meets me at the
English Market to talk through its
history and give me an introduction to
the best coffee shops (try Filter), tiny
delis (see the Rocket Man), even a smoke
house (the new Elbow Lane), along
17th-century alleyways.
The market, off Mutton Lane, was
founded in 1788 by the Protestant
corporation that controlled the city —
hence the name — and has been trading
ever since. I try oysters, chocolate and
cheese before ending up at Farmgate
Café, a casual restaurant that sits on a
mezzanine level overlooking the stalls,
which is an absolute must for lunch.
Once stuffed, it seems wise to clamber
up the 132 steps of St Anne’s church.
Built in 1722, it is the oldest of many
Need to
Laura Whateley was a
guest of Tourism Ireland
( She stayed
in Hayfield Manor, a
traditional five-star hotel
with open fires and golfputting sets in the rooms.
Doubles cost from £177
churches whose spires you can see
poking out all over the city (you can
identify this one by the “goldie fish”
salmon at the top of its weather vane).
Visitors are invited to ring the famous
Shandon bells on the way up, so I give
Hey Jude and Oranges and Lemons a go
with the sheet music provided, before
reaching the summit for an impressive
view across town.
You can see, and smell, the billowing
steam from the Heineken brewery, but
the more impressive booze attraction is
the Jameson distillery in Midleton, a
short drive through green countryside.
I get a tour of the old distillery, which
made whiskey from 1825 to 1975, until
the new on-site distillery was
established. This churns out the
31 million bottles of Jameson, still
composed of barley sourced from
producers within 100 miles of Midleton,
sold worldwide each year. Malted and
unmalted barley are used together in
Irish whiskey (a tradition, I learn, that
originates from a taxation by the English
on malted barley), giving it a creamier
taste than whiskies from elsewhere.
A further short drive beyond Midleton
is Ballymaloe Cookery School run by
Darina Allen, whose alumni go on to
work in some of the world’s best
restaurants and — on our way past the
“Bread Shed”, where students bake
sourdough for sale in the farm shop — we
bump into one, Louise, a former pastry
sous-chef at Noma in Copenhagen.
Visitors take afternoon cookery
lessons to learn skills such as
fermentation or baking bread, or you can
do as I did and sit in on one of the
demos. In mine Rachel Allen, Darina’s
daughter-in-law and a celebrity chef in
her own right (she was tipped as a
possible judge for The Great British Bake
Off), shows how to fillet a round fish
such as a cod and check if it’s fresh (the
more rigid the better), and make chicken
liver pâté and a lemon meringue pie.
Rachel recommends a visit to Kinsale
the next day. The little seaside town —
where colourful cottages can sell for
more than €1 million (£890,000),
according to ads in the local estate agent
windows — is 20 minutes from Cork
airport and therefore ideal to squeeze in
at the end of a weekend.
First, though, I go to the Old Head of
Kinsale to see where the RMS Lusitania
liner was sunk by a German U-boat in
1915. Then it is a stretch around more
narrow streets of chichi shops with
names such as Granny’s Bottom Drawer,
selling blankets by Irish weavers, before
I’m hungry again.
Boats bring in the many catches of the
day at Fishy Fishy, run by another Irish
family committed to local produce,
Martin and Marie Shanahan, who greet
diners at the door. If you are in any
doubt where the ingredients originated,
read the daily printed menu. There is
Billy Lynch’s grilled red gurnard and
Shane Murphy’s pan-roasted monkfish
— the fishermen had been out that
morning. No floppy fish here.
Laura Whateley
the times Saturday March 10 2018
40 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 41
Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
The best-value
resort in Europe?
Kranjska Gora in Slovenia has been
named the top place for a budget ski
holiday. Will Hide grabs boots, poles
(and calculator) to find out if it really is
had only been in Kranjska Gora,
tucked away in the far northwest
corner of Slovenia, for a day and I was
struck by how many laughing families I was surrounded by. A good
number of them came from Britain.
Everywhere I looked people just
seemed happy, plain and simple, obviously
having a good time.
I know you’d think this was a given on
any holiday, but one of my most recent
trips away was to a swanky hotel where no
one smiled and couples just sat glumly by
the pool glued to their phones and iPads
as if they had just found out that their
prizewinning lottery ticket had ended up
in the washing machine.
Here, though, in midwinter, the snow
was deep — a further 30cm overnight —
so the hardcore skiers and boarders in the
Vopa Bar were pleased. Young children in
the ski school had stopped for an impromptu snowball fight and howled with
laughter when there was a direct hit.
At lunchtime in the Lacni Kekec
restaurant at the foot of the slopes I was
sandwiched into a corner next to the jovial
Wilson family from South Yorkshire, who
were clearly having a good time. They were
tucking into plates of chicken nuggets and
chips, while I went for more traditional
barley soup and a tray groaning with local
cheeses and meats, washed down with
ginger tea. This was the Wilsons’ third time
to Kranjska Gora and dad Stuart didn’t
hesitate when I asked why. “It’s the value,
really,” he said. “Your money just goes so
much further here than in France.”
A recent survey by Post Office Money
backs him up. It looked at prices in 22
European ski resorts and when things
such as ski pass, boot hire, ski school,
drinks and lunch on the slopes were taken
into account, Kranjska Gora came out top
as offering the best value, while Zermatt in
Switzerland was named the priciest, two
and a half times more expensive overall
than its Slovenian cousin.
Casting its net even farther, the Post
Office found that ski lessons in Vail, Colorado, were about nine times more expensive than in Kranjska Gora, while a small
glass of wine in Whistler, Canada, would
hit you three times as hard.
As well as keen prices, Kranjska Gora
has plenty of other points in its favour,
even if super-extensive ski terrain is not
one of them. There are about 20km of
downhill pistes, so it is best suited to
beginners and intermediates, for whom a
cheeky hot chocolate stop now and then is
as important as carving fresh tracks every
day. And I have to say, gloopy Slovenian
hot chocolate, which is more like soup, is
rather addictive.
If you fancy sneaking off for a postlunch dip in one of the town’s spas, you can
always come back after dinner because
some slopes are floodlit and open daily
until 10pm. (An hour-long massage at the
Vita Wellness Centre is about €45.)
I wouldn’t want to give the impression
that it is all snowplough turns and bunny
slopes. There are certainly some steep
black runs here, and one of the stages of
the Alpine Skiing World Cup is held at
Kranjska Gora. I tackled it with my guide,
Blaz Kavcic, who also organises jogging
tours of Ljubljana and runs a business that
helps marathon runners and triathletes to
prepare for races. While the blue runs were
relatively busy, here we were practically on
our own and we enjoyed several solitary
mid-morning swoops.
“I love Kranjska Gora,” he told me,
“because it’s super-friendly. It’s not an artificial resort, it’s a real, living village and it’s
great value. There’s a lot to do here for fam-
ilies, including evening sledging trips and
ice climbing. That last one is not just for
mad people.”
If you have a rental car — which are extremely cheap; I found one online for £22
a week — it’s easy to pootle to resorts over
the border in Italy and Austria, about half
an hour to an hour’s drive away, or visit the
simply stunning Lake Bled for a bit of
sightseeing (about a 40-minute drive
away). A popular evening excursion is a
chauffeur-driven dinner each Wednesday,
where the first course is in Slovenia, the
main course in Italy and dessert in Austria.
For variety you could drive to the capital,
Ljubljana, for an afternoon of exploring —
it is only 50 minutes away.
If you don’t have a hire car, though, an
old American school bus, painted red not
yellow, loops around the resort and
surrounding area five times a day, free of
charge. I used it to go to Planica, about ten
minutes away, one of the world’s top crosscountry and ski-jumping venues. Although you can’t launch yourself off the
end, à la Eddie the Eagle, you can have a go
on the simulator in the museum for a few
euros. Afterwards I went on to Penzion
Need to
Will Hide was a guest of
Crystal Ski (020 8610
which offers a week’s
half-board in Kranjska
Gora, flights from
Gatwick and airport
transfers from £589pp.
Other UK airports
are available at a
supplement. More
information at
Milka by Lake Jasna for lunch, which I’d
highly recommend. The London-trained
chef Miha Dolinar created a delicious
lunch of pasta, lamb steak and baked apple
strudel, which, considering the quality,
was an absolute bargain for about £25.
Another big plus is that Kranjska Gora
has plenty of character. It is a real village
surrounded by spectacular limestone
mountains, with a quaint, compact centre,
where wooden stalls in the shadow of the
church sell local meats, honey and woolly
hats. There is a supermarket too, where —
if this is how you measure good holiday
value — you can pick up a six-pack of local
beer for £5.50. And a good selection of restaurants as well: a decent-sized pizza, for
example, can be had for less than £6 and at
the atmospheric Pri Martinu I had tasty
venison and bread dumplings, about the
most expensive thing on the menu, for £14.
I only had a long weekend in Kranjska
Gora, but it’s definitely somewhere I’d like
to come back to with friends and family.
We live in odd times and any ski resort that
seems to be infectiously happy and leaves
you with a smile on your face, and some
change in your pocket, gets my vote.
Grab a great late-season ski deal
t has been one of the best winters in
the Alps for years. Snow began
falling early in December and there
have been regular dumps of the
white stuff since, with forecasts for
the weeks ahead looking promising.
Some resorts that usually close in the
last week of April are considering
extending their season for a week into
May. Temperatures may have fluctuated
recently, sometimes dropping to as low
as minus 15C at night in resorts such as
Cortina in Italy, then rising to 2C around
lunchtime — great for fashionistas
sunning themselves by a mountain
rifugio, while not so great because the
melting snow ices up the next morning
— but whichever way you look at it
there’s an awful lot of snow about, and
this year could be the time to be
impulsive. Book that late-season break!
Savoyard-style dining room (01483
791114, Méribel is perfect
for intermediates and beginners can take
advantage of the good ski school.
Méribel in March
£500 off in Austria
Stay for a week in a catered chalet in the
centre of Méribel in France — with
breakfasts, afternoon tea and cake, and
three-course evening meals with wine —
and save £220pp on March 24 departures
from Gatwick. Inghams has reduced the
price to £799pp, including flights to
Geneva and transfers. Your base will be
the three-star 28-room Chalet Hotel Les
Grangettes, which has a bar and
Great savings are to be had on
Crystal Ski Holidays trips to the
super-lively St Anton, famous for its
boisterous late-night après-ski, as well
as its excellent slopes for advanced
intermediates and experts. A week’s
chalet catering at the comfortable
two-star Chalet Schlosshof costs from
£509pp, a saving of £500pp, departing on
March 24 from Gatwick to Innsbruck
(020 8610 3123,
Transfers are included.
Bulgarian bargain
Some of the best last-minute ski
holidays are in Borovets in Bulgaria,
where the cost of living is particularly
cheap, although the runs are not
suited to beginners. However, good
intermediates will enjoy the resort,
which has lively nightlife, with
plenty of restaurants and clubs.
Balkan Holidays (020 7543 5555,
Continued next page
Sapphire Princess has a generous array of restaurants, bars and
entertainment options – coupled with some stylish touches and
friendly service.
SUE BRYANT – cruise editor, The Sunday Times
Times ship rating: 8/10
Experience all the highlights of Vietnam and Thailand on this exclusive
15-night escorted tour and cruise. There is no better way to discover the
food, culture and history of these amazing destinations.
ith their beautiful landscapes, bustling
cities and superb cuisine, Vietnam and
Thailand are two of the most irresistible
destinations in southeast Asia – and on this exclusive
15-night escorted tour and cruise you will discover
what makes them so special.
Your adventure begins with a wonderful eight-day
fully escorted tour of Vietnam, taking in all the
highlights of the capital Hanoi and historic Ho Chi
Minh City. Plus, enjoy an overnight voyage on a
traditional junk boat across the stunningly beautiful
Ha Long Bay. After flying to Singapore for a one-night
hotel stay, you will then embark on a seven-night,
full-board cruise aboard Sapphire Princess. Set sail and
discover the unspoilt tropical scenery of Koh Samui
and a kaleidoscope of colours, tastes and sounds in
bustling Bangkok.
During your eight-day escorted
tour, you will discover the true
character and history of Vietnam
on a series of fascinating tours.
Highlights include the One Pillar
Pagoda, the Temple of Literature,
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a water
puppetry performance and the
famous Cu Chi tunnels. Plus, you
will sail across beautiful Ha Long
Bay in a traditional junk boat during
an unforgettable overnight voyage.
Your brilliant seven-night
southeast Asia cruise will be on
board Sapphire Princess, which
has been awarded an 8/10 Times
ship rating by The Sunday Times’s
cruise editor Sue Bryant, who says:
“It’s a buzzing ship that combines a
generous array of restaurants, bars
and entertainment with luxurious
deck-lounging areas, an Asianthemed spa and plenty of quiet
places with a ‘small ship’ feel.”
You will also enjoy an overnight
stay in the amazing city of
Singapore, where gleaming
skyscrapers sit side-by-side with
aromatic spice markets. The
awesome Gardens by the Bay are
just one of the highlights.
A one-night hotel stay in Singapore
An eight-day fully-escorted Vietnam tour including:
All flights and transfers
A seven-night full-board cruise aboard Sapphire Princess
Three nights at the four-star Ann Hanoi Hotel
Tour of Hanoi including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Temple of Literature
and water puppetry performance
One-night stay on a traditional junk boat cruise including meals
Three-night hotel stay in Ho Chi Minh City
Trip duration: January 15 to 31, 2019.
Exclusively with
£2,699* per person
0808 250 2237
*Price based on two sharing an Inside Cabin. Outside Cabin: from £2,899pp. Balcony: from £3,299pp. Suite: from £3,899pp. Holidays are operated by Imagine Cruising Ltd, Portland House, Bincknoll Lane, Interface Business Park, Royal Wootton Bassett,
Swindon SN4 8SY and subject to the booking conditions of Imagine Cruising Ltd, ATOL and ABTA protected; a company wholly independent of News UK. Imagine Cruising: ABTA Y6300. ATOL 11078.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 43 specialises in
Bulgarian breaks and has a seven-night
half-board trip departing from Bristol
on March 24 from £269pp. Transfers
are included and accommodation is
provided at the three-star Hotel Victoria.
Ski hire and a lift pass are £125pp extra.
£150 off in Les Arcs
A week’s stay in Les Arcs in France is
now from £749pp — a saving of £150pp
— when booked through Inghams
(01483 791114,
ski-holidays). This includes seven
nights at Chalet Edouard on chalet
board with breakfasts, afternoon tea
and meals with wine, flights from
Gatwick and transfers departing on
March 24. Les Arcs is high altitude with
slopes rising to 3,250m and is connected
to the huge Paradiski ski area, which is
great for skiers and snowboarders.
Ski touring in St Anton, Austria
£888pp, staying in a two-bedroom
apartment for two adults and two
children (01273 224062,
Flights and transfers are included.
Cut-price Andorra
Family deals in
La Plagne
Iglu Ski is a great starting point for
last-minute deals, and it is offering
a particularly tempting week-long
holiday in Arinsal in Andorra, the tiny
principality in the Pyrenees. The holiday
departs on March 25 and includes
flights, transfers and a half-board stay
at Hotel Xalet Besoli. The price is from
£469pp (020 3811 6381,
Arinsal is best for beginners and has
plenty of charming wood-lined slopes.
With good nursery slopes, a wide
selection of intermediate runs and pretty
woodland sections, La Plagne in the
French Alps is another great choice for
families. WeSki is offering a week-long
Easter break for a party of four departing
on March 31 from £780pp with flights,
transfers, ski passes and self-catering at
the Apartments L’Aconcagua, a simple
but well-located block close to the slopes
(020 3807 0040,
Last-minute French
Late booking in Tignes
Conditions are good in the French
Pyrenees, which have enjoyed substantial
snowfall over the past fortnight. For a
cheap trip try Zenith Holidays, which has
a getaway on March 17 from £163pp,
based on four sharing a Madame
Vacances Résidence Cami Real
apartment in the resort of St
Lary Soulan (020 3137 7678,
Flights to Lourdes are
about £100 return with
Ryanair (
St Lary has
intermediate runs and
some challenging
black slopes.
Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin du Val Claret in
Tignes, France, has a pool, hot tub, bar
and smart rooms. Mark Warner has a
seven-night chalet board stay departing
on March 18 from £729pp with flights
from Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester or
Birmingham, and transfers (0330
3114124, The
price for under-12s is £619pp
and there is evening
childcare. Slopes at
Tignes rise to
3,455m, making it a
safe bet for snow.
£145 off in
It may be difficult
to spell and
Value for
pronounce, but
Norefjell Ski & Spa,
Obergurgl in Austria
money in
is great for a late-March
getaway. The editors of
Where to Ski and Snowboard
Snow-sure pistes reaching 2,870m, great
( describe
après-ski, fast lifts, fantastic slopes and
extensive snow-parks — Ischgl has much it as “one of the most snow-sure resorts
in the Alps”. It’s best suited to beginners
to offer on a late-season break. Ski Total
and intermediates. Crystal has a week’s
says that its trip departing on March 25
half-board at the four-star Hotel Sportiv
is one of the best-value holidays it has
departing on April 7 from £1,014pp, a
had to offer this winter. A seven-night
saving of £145pp (020 8610 3123,
stay costs from £865pp staying chalet,) including flights from
board at the cosy Chalet Zita,
Gatwick to Innsbruck and transfers.
overlooking the centre of the resort
(01483 791935, The price
includes flights from Gatwick to
Italian Alps for less
Innsbruck and transfers.
For a quick getaway try Flexiski, which
Easter holidays in
How about a holiday in the nation that
came top of the Winter Olympics
medals table? Norway took 39 medals in
total — eight more than Germany in
second place — including 14 golds. Ski
Safari has knocked 20 per cent off a
seven-night trip to Norefjell, departing
on April 8 and staying at the chic
four-star Norefjell Ski & Spa apartments.
The resort is two hours by road from
Oslo and best suited to families with
beginners. The half-board price is from
has a series of three to five-night breaks
to France, Austria and Italy. Courmayeur
in the Italian Alps is a traditional ski
resort with a pretty centre and good runs
for intermediates and some challenging
off-piste. A five-night half-board stay at
Hotel Cresta et Duc costs from £1,025pp
departing on March 18, with flights
from Southend and transfers included
(020 8939 0862, The
hotel is in the centre of the resort and
comes with a sauna and hammam.
Tom Chesshyre
For snow forecasts see, or;
prices correct at the time of publication
44 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
10 nights
This offer includes
break Discovery
Rome and Bologna
Three night hotel stay in Prague
Seven night all-inclusive river cruise
on board A-Rosa Donna
Overnight stay on-board in Vienna
and Budapest
Danube River
Uncover chocolate box towns, imposing castles
and valleys resplendent with natural beauty
during your cruise down the River Danube.
You’ll begin with three nights in Prague, a
city brimming with historical delights, before
embarking A-rosa Donna. First you’ll meet
Book a French Balcony and stay at the
five-star Occidental Prague Wilson
Vienna, holding cobbled lanes and palaces with
Free use of all on-board amenities
Unlimited beverages on board
including wines, beers, spirits,
cocktails, soft drinks, coffee, tea,
juices and water
you cruise to the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava,
Return British Airways flights
(London departure)
beautifully tended gardens before heading to
Esztergom. Next is enchanting Budapest, before
where you’ll find fairytale castles with panoramic
views across the river. The glorious Wachau
Valley greets you next, with slopes lined with
vineyards and apricot orchards. Finally you’ll visit
the small town of Melk, before disembarking back
in Engelhartszell.
Regional flight departures available
All transfers
October 11, 2018
save up to
per couple
Schöne Zeit
Your itinerary
Prague, Engelhartszell, Vienna,
Esztergom (Hungary), Budapest,
Bratislava, Passage Wachau,
Monday–Sunday, 9am–9pm.
ABTA No.Y6300
0330 160 8718
Prices are per person based on two adults sharing a Riverview or French Balcony. Terms and conditions apply, for full details please visit Regional flights available with a supplement.
46 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 47
Stylish retreat
in Wiltshire
The cool
hotel guide
In a nutshell
With a pair of binoculars it’s possible to
watch the horses on the home straight at
Cheltenham racecourse from this spa
hotel. Most guests, however, will attend
the day’s races in one of the hotel’s
chauffeur-driven Bentleys (included in
special race-day rates). Ellenborough is
in a splendid 16th-century manor that
witnessed a romantic scandal in the
1820s when it was home to the Earl of
Ellenborough and the society beauty
Jane Digby, his wife, who had affairs
with her cousin and an Austrian prince
(the couple soon divorced).
What are the rooms like?
They are elegant and traditional, but
with a modern makeover that includes
patterned wallpaper, beds with Hypnos
mattresses, gowns and marble
bathrooms with underfloor heating and
fancy 100 Acres toiletries. Antiques,
exposed beams and old gilt-framed
pictures remain. Of the cheapest rooms,
numbers eight and nine in the main
house are the best (from £143 B&B).
Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort
Which is the best room?
The Istrabraq suite, named after the
legendary horse that won Cheltenham’s
Champion Hurdle three times, has a
four-poster bed (from £440 B&B).
decent portion. The extravagant violet
meringue was a bit sickly sweet for my
liking. Three courses are from £50.
So what’s the food like?
Salmon sandwiches, hot dogs and
burgers are offered in the lively Horse
Box bar (especially lively on race day). In
the wood-panelled restaurant expect
refined dining such as venison with
black pudding and grilled veal chops
with Hereford snails. My ham, duck egg,
pickled radish and pig’s head starter was
pleasingly salty and moreish, while my
main course of Cornish hake with white
beans, coconut and crab was subtle and a
Who goes there?
Horse-racing fans, and the great and the
good of the sport. The ex-champion
jockey AP McCoy, among others, has
stayed. The Gold Cup festival begins at
Cheltenham racecourse on Tuesday
The highs, the lows, the verdict
Eight out of ten
This is the best place to stay on race day
and the outdoor heated pool is great, but
it can get a bit boisterous in the bar.
Tom Chesshyre
Price includes
• Two nights’ B&B
• One three-course dinner
• 25-minute spa treatment or
round of golf per person
• Room upgrade
Need to
“Bowood Hotel sits within a
stunning Wiltshire estate.”
Jessie Hewitson
Travel writer, The Times
Times hotel rating: 8/10
Call 01249 489177
Use code TEH39
Terms and conditions apply
Tom Chesshyre was a
guest of Ellenborough
Park (01242 545454,,
Southam Road,
Gloucestershire GL52 3NJ;
B&B doubles from £143;
wheelchair access is
available; no singleoccupancy discount; dogs
allowed in some rooms
Spend the night in a historic castle in Sussex, an 18th-century water mill in Suffolk or a cosy inn near Stratford-upon-Avon with these fantastic hotel offers exclusively for Times readers.
Tuddenham Mill, Suffolk
What’s included
A one (£75pp) or two- (£135pp) night stay
l A delicious breakfast
l A glass of prosecco on arrival
l Dinner on one evening (£30pp)
l Tea and cake – for two-night stays only
This delightful 18th-century mill has been transformed into a
luxury hotel, located in the beautiful Suffolk countryside. It’s
characterful and cosy, with a candlelit dining room and plenty
to explore nearby, including historic Bury St Edmunds
“This eighteenth-century mill house not only offers stylish
rooms but top-notch cooking too.”
Sophie Butler – travel writer, Times Expert Traveller
Times hotel rating: 8/10
The George Townhouse,
What’s included
A two-night stay
l Daily breakfast
l A three-course dinner each night
l A bottle of wine with dinner
The George Townhouse occupies a pretty Georgian building just
outside the Cotswolds. A modern facelift added a bustling bar and
lovely bedrooms, but plenty of charm remains. It’s the perfect base
from which to explore Shakespeare’s county.
“Lovers of fancy, but not too fancy, pubs and those after a
bargain will like it.”
Tom Chesshyre – Cool Hotel Reviewer, The Times
Times hotel rating: 8/10
Amberley Castle, Sussex
What’s included
A two-night stay
l Daily breakfast
l One five-course tasting menu (excluding alcohol)
This 900-year-old castle in Sussex is a truly impressive place
to stay. Hidden within a 60-foot high curtain wall, the medieval
interiors are suitably characterful, with oak-panelled walls, roaring
fires and the odd suit of armour. The surrounding countryside
offers tons to explore.
“Romantic breaks don’t get much better than staying in a
medieval castle, and what a castle this is.”
Jane Knight – travel editor, The Times
Times hotel rating: 9/10
01638 445 257
01608 433 624
01798 652 249
Thursday, until April 30, 2018. Weekend supplements may apply. Terms apply.
48 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 49
Forget flying and set sail from the UK
There has never
been such a great
choice of cruises
from British ports,
says Sara Macefield
Cruises this year
Cookery in the
Canary Islands
Get tips from the top on a cookery
masterclass with Marco Pierre White
on this P&O Cruises Canary Islands
voyage. In addition to demonstrating
his culinary skills, the celebrity chef
will talk about his career and meet
passengers at a book signing. As this
cruise departs during the school
holidays, it holds plenty of family
appeal, with the chance to go dolphin
spotting in Madeira, enjoy a buggy
adventure in La Palma and splash
around at Tenerife’s newest water park.
Details A 12-night sailing from/to
Southampton, also calling at Spain
and Portugal, departs on August 5
and costs from £1,339pp (0345 3555111,
Voyage to the
Norwegian fjords
The boutique line Azamara Club Cruises
is out to make its mark in the UK by
naming its latest ship, Azamara Pursuit,
in Southampton this August followed
by its first round-trip sailing from the
port to the Norwegian fjords. Channel
your inner Viking on a stop at Norway’s
birthplace, Haugesund, dating from
the 9th century, where a reconstructed
settlement portrays life from that era.
Details A 12-night return-trip cruise
from Southampton departs on August 1
and costs from £4,988pp, including
gratuities and drinks (0844 4934016,
New York and
the Caribbean
Escape the wintry British weather on
this Cunard transatlantic voyage that
combines the bright lights of New York
with the tropical allure of the Caribbean.
Cruisers opting for this round-trip
Southampton sailing can do Christmas
shopping in Manhattan and relax in
Saint Lucia in
the West Indies
between among the isles of the
West Indies, including St Lucia, St
Thomas and Antigua.
Details The 27-night voyage, departing
on November 18, costs from £2,141pp
(0344 3388650,
Bungee fun to Barcelona
Bounce around on bungee trampolines,
hone your breakout skills in an escape
room and go out in a blaze of glory
during a laser tag battle aboard Royal
Caribbean International’s newly
revamped ship Independence of the Seas,
which will be based at Southampton this
summer travelling to France and Spain,
the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands
and the Norwegian fjords.
Details A 14-night round-trip cruise from
Southampton to the Mediterranean,
including calls at Marseilles, Barcelona
and Palma, departs on June 30. It costs
from £1,379pp (0844 4934005,
Continued next page
the times Saturday March 10 2018
50 Travel
Honfleur, Normandy
Cruise into
Basque Country
Add Italianate panache to sailings
around northern Europe and Norway
with the Italian line MSC Cruises,
which is basing its ship the MSC
Magnifica at Southampton from
March to October. A voyage exploring
the North Sea and the Channel ports
of Germany, the Netherlands, France
and Spain, includes an overnight stay
among the canals and coffee shops
of Amsterdam and takes passengers
to the artistic hub of Bilbao in the heart
of Basque Country.
Details The 11-night cruise from/to
Southampton departs on May 24
and costs from £949pp (020
3856 3087,
Russia in style
St Petersburg’s imperial
glories are the highlights on
a voyage full of luxurious
touches. This Baltic sailing
on the opulent Seven Seas
Explorer, billed as the world’s
most luxurious ship and flagship
of upmarket Regent Seven Seas
Cruises, takes passengers through
Germany’s Kiel Canal to Stockholm
and Helsinki.
Details The 12-night cruise from
Southampton to Copenhagen departs
on July 16 and costs from £7,529pp,
including return flight, gratuities,
drinks and excursions (023 8068 2280,
Mini-cruise to France
Sail to two of France’s most
atmospheric cities on a mini-cruise
marking the 40th anniversary of travel
firm Titan. First stop is Rouen, where
Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake,
while the fishing port of Honfleur
overflows with pastoral prettiness.
Details The four-night round-trip
sailing from Southampton departs
on September 28 and costs from
£579pp. This includes VIP car service
to/from the port (0808 2785870,
Wildlife in Scotland
Puffins, left, otters and
eagles are some of the
highlights awaiting
cruisers aboard
Majestic Line’s trio
of converted wooden
fishing vessels.
These atmospheric
craft carry up to
12 guests through
the Hebrides and
along the Argyll
coastline. Explore the
abandoned isle of St Kilda
and spot the wildlife around Mull.
Details A six-night cruise from Oban
to the Isles of Clyde and Southern
Hebrides, finishing in Dunoon,
departs on October 20 and costs
from £1,970pp, including soft drinks
and wine with dinner (01369 707951,
Natural wonders
in Iceland
Visit the world’s most-northerly
capital, Reykjavik, and explore
Iceland’s untamed wonders on this
voyage aboard Norwegian Cruise
Line’s refurbished ship the Norwegian
Jade. This sailing also uncovers the
UK’s lesser-known nooks and crannies,
from Lerwick in the Shetland Isles to
Orkney’s capital, Kirkwall, a city full
of Norse heritage.
Details A 14-night round-trip
Southampton cruise departs on
May 25 and costs from £1,339pp,
including drinks, gratuities and
onboard credit (0333 2412319,
Disney magic
in Norway
Join Mickey Mouse for this magical
Disney Cruise Line voyage to
Norway, and the chance to meet
its leading characters Anna, Elsa
and Olaf amid the towering fjords
and picturesque fishing villages in
Kristiansand and Stavanger. Families
can explore Denmark’s storybook
capital, Copenhagen, by Segway or opt
for horse-riding and kayaking
Details A one-week return-trip
voyage from Dover to the Norwegian
fjords departs on August 26 and costs
from £2,585pp for an ocean-view
cabin (0800 1712317,
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 51
Cruises in 2019
Circumnavigate the
globe from Tilbury
If you’ve time to spare, spend four
months sailing around the world
aboard Cruise & Maritime’s flagship
the Columbus, which departs Essex for
the Caribbean, transiting the Panama
Canal to the South Pacific and
Australasia. It then sails through Asia,
arriving at the spectacular limestone
karsts of Halong Bay in Vietnam and
calling at Bangkok and Singapore.
After sailing through the Middle East,
the Columbus passes through the Suez
Canal into the Mediterranean on the
final stretch back to the UK.
Details The 120-night circumnavigation
departs Tilbury on January 5, 2019 and
costs from £10,499pp (0844 9983799,
See the northern lights
Let nature’s natural illuminations light
up your new year on Viking Cruises’
new northern-lights departures. Sail
into a world of spectacular snow-covered
landscapes best admired from
reindeer-drawn sleighs, husky sled rides
or snowmobiling adventures.
Details Twelve-night sailings from
Tilbury to Bergen depart between
January and March 2019, costing
from £4,295pp, which includes shore
excursions and drinks. The return
flight is extra (0800 2989700,
Blooming Belgium
This gardens-themed voyage with
French line Ponant promises to be
the pick of the bunch for budding
horticulturalists. The first day is spent
at Kew Gardens before Le Boreal sets
sail along the Thames to uncover the
floral charms of Bruges and Antwerp.
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and
Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden are
highlights as the cruise heads to Norway.
Details A nine-night package, which
includes an overnight hotel stay in
London pre-cruise, starts on May 13,
2019, with the sailing from Tower Bridge
to Bergen the next day. It costs from
£3,517pp, including welcome reception,
drinks, selected excursions and
gratuities. The return flight costs extra
(0800 9804027,
North America debut
Cross the Atlantic to explore Canada’s
rugged coastline along with sleepy
New England settlements on the first
Princess Cruises round-trip voyage
to North America from the UK. The
fascinating itinerary features the line’s
debut call to Rockland in Maine, the
epicentre of the region’s lobster industry.
The mansions of Newport Rhode Island
loom large during a call at the US’s
smallest state, while the Canadian city
of Halifax brims with maritime heritage.
Details The 24-night return-trip voyage
from Southampton departs on
September 14, 2019 and costs from
£2,499pp (0344 3388663,
Sail the coast
of Croatia
Discover Croatia’s spectacular
coastline on an exclusive sevennight, private charter, on a halfboard basis, with Prestige Holidays,
from May 5-12. Sail on a stylish,
motorised boat with a restaurant,
sun-deck and space for just 38
select passengers, with port visits
to Split, Korcula and Dubrovnik.
“Your ship will be stylish
and new — with great crew
and comfortable cabins.”
Julia Mora — travel writer
6 A seven-night
half-board cruise
6 Return flights
plus transfers
6 Tour to Mijet
National Park and
a Taste of Dalmatia
6 The services of a
Prestige Holidays
tour manager
01425 383467
Terms and
conditions apply
Expert Traveller
the times Saturday March 10 2018
52 Travel
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 53
Overseas Travel
SICILY & Aeolian Islands
specialists: Taormina 7nts
inc b&b from £499. Tailormade, Multi-centre, Flydrive: ABTA, ATOL
protected 2699 info@the
www.thesicilianexperience Tel 0207 828 9171
UK Holidays
DORSET’S Finest Cottages
Book on 0844 998 3944
Cornwall & Devon
COTTAGES throughout the
Travel Insurance
West Country checked out
before you check in. For a
brochure call 01647 434049
or look and book at
Country Over 500 cottages
01665 830783
Pets Welcome
Wales guide to dog friendly
holidays Free brochure
01437 772745
Book your advertisement or
announcement now at: advertise
the times Saturday March 10 2018
54 Travel
A canal in Venice
Travel tips
Fly Southend to Catania
Air Malta will launch flights from Southend
to Catania, on Sicily’s east coast, in May.
The travel company Sunvil has packaged
the new flights with properties within
an easy drive of the airport. For instance,
the villa Commenda di San Calogero,
north of Syracuse, is only 19 miles away,
with lavish gardens and views of Mount
Etna. It costs from £838pp for seven
nights’ B&B, car hire and flights, based on two sharing (
Six Senses opens in Turkey
For a hotel in a fantastic setting with a superb spa and archaeological
sites near by, take a look at Six Senses Kaplankaya, which is due to
open just north of Bodrum on May 1. The hotel is carved into giant
rock formations on the Aegean coast and is a couple of hours from
Ephesus. It will also have family villas with plunge pools and a kids’
club. Rooms cost from £310 a night (
Travel brochure for dogs
Show Fido the new travel brochure for
dogs and see if he wags his tail at the look
of the canine-friendly hotels and other,
erm, “petaways”. There are also essential
guides on packing for your pooch, how to
travel by ferry and how to get a pet
passport. The brochure is from Pets
Pyjamas, which has more than 2,000
dog-friendly hotels, cottages, pubs and
B&Bs on its books. Download a digital
version of the brochure at
Travel doctor
Wellness for men in Spain
If you’re a gent over 40 then head to the Marbella Club in Spain,
where you can join Ian Marber for his half-day nutrition masterclass
on April 14, covering health issues faced by men and how to deal
with them. Once you’ve attended the course you can relax in the
renowned hotel, with two outdoor pools, tennis courts and a Thalasso
spa. Rooms start at £380 a night, B&B (
Jane Knight
My husband turns 60 at the
end of May next year. He
loves Italy and would like to
celebrate there by renting a
large villa with five double
bedrooms for our family. We would like
to fly to Venice and stay somewhere
within an hour or so’s drive that has
restaurants within walking distance.
Anne Bell, via email
Villa Sebastiano, in the hills
above Vicenza (about an hour
from Venice), should be perfect
for you. It’s in a gorgeous
location, with a garden bordering on
the park of Villa Valmarana ai Nani, a
Venetian villa famous for its frescoes by
Tiepolo. Villa Rotonda, one of Andrea
Palladio’s most important villas, is a 10minute walk, while restaurants are a 20minute stroll away. Sebastiano sleeps up
to 12 in six bedrooms. A week at the end
of May (this year) costs £6,300 through
Hidden Italy (
Alternatively, try elegant Villa Michiel,
which was built in the 17th century as
a country retreat for a Venetian family.
It sleeps up to 11 in six bedrooms, has
an outdoor pool and is within walking
distance of Mirano, a small town with
plenty of shops and restaurants. Mira,
on the Brenta Canal and renowned for
its Palladian villas, is five minutes’ drive;
Venice is 12 miles away. A week at the
end of May 2019 would cost £3,292
through Tuscany Now & More
Q My wife and I are planning a trip to
South America and would like to take
in some of the sights of Argentina,
Chile, Peru, Bolivia and possibly
Colombia. We would be happy to travel
alone or in a small group. Would this be
feasible on a budget of £10,000 for the
two of us? When is the best time of
year to travel?
Alan Wilson, via email
A An escorted tour of all these
countries is out of reach on this budget,
but you could try Insider Places
(, a new travel
company that puts holidaymakers in
touch with local travel agents with the
promise of better-value trips (and has
ABTA bonding so your money is
protected). A 23-night Peru, Bolivia,
Chile and Argentina trip would cost
about £7,700 for two including
mid-range hotels, excursions, transfers,
some meals and internal flights.
International flights cost about £700
extra and if you wanted to tack on six
nights in Colombia, then that would cost
about £600pp, taking you to just over
£10,000. As to when’s best to go — avoid
June, July and August because it’s winter
in Argentina, and Chile and the Andes
will be very cold, while Peru is rainy in
January and February.
Q I want to celebrate my son’s 18th
birthday with an overnight stay and
dinner as well as a treat such as
a light-aircraft flight or driving
experience (he can already drive
and likes speedy cars). It should be
special, but not break the bank. We
are a family of four and would like
to be within two hours of London.
Caroline Peters, via email
A How about driving a Mercedes-Benz
6.2 litre V8 AMG, on the Mercedes-Benz
World track, near Weybridge in Surrey?
It’s next to the Brooklands hotel
(, which
offers a one-night package including halfboard, use of the spa and a 30-minute
drive for £198pp. Or, if you stayed at The
Grove ( near Watford,
where rooms start at £290 a night, you’d
be a short drive from Elstree aerodrome,
which has trial flights in a light aircraft
with MAK Aviation (;
30 minutes costs £98.
Julia Brookes is the Travel Doctor
Don’t put up with this
Flight delay led to a missed tour
My son booked on to a group tour
with Intrepid Travel to Machu Picchu.
It booked the connecting flight for him
from Manchester to London, which he
requested to connect with the flights
for the tour. The weather was bad on
the day he flew, the BA plane landed
on the second attempt and delays
meant that he missed his flight to
Bogota. BA put him up in a hotel and
offered to fly him the next day. He
knew that he would miss the start of
the tour, so the next day he emailed
Intrepid to tell them he was returning
to Manchester. It cancelled the tour
and he lost £1,600. Can you help?
Melanie Wharton, via email
This case highlights how easy it can
be to lose the whole cost of a holiday
through no fault of your own — and
how essential it is to pick the insurance
cover that suits your needs. Some
polices may pay out if the delay to your
outward departure flight causes you
to abandon your travel plans, but your
son’s didn’t. If he’d contacted Intrepid
as soon as he knew that he was going
to miss the flight to Bogota (it has a
24-hour call centre) it may have been
able to get him to a joining point for the
tour. A spokesman said that Intrepid had
helped others in similar circumstances
to do that and was “incredibly sorry”
that he couldn’t make an insurance
claim. It has now offered your son a free
tour as a gesture of goodwill. He can’t
make a claim against BA because it was
a weather-related delay.
Contact us . . .
If you have a gripe, suggestion or question about
holiday travel, write to Travel Doctor, The Times
Travel Desk, 1 London Bridge Street, London
SE1 9GF, or email
Please include contact details. If you have a
dispute with a travel company, try to resolve it
before contacting us.
Do not send us original documents.
Unfortunately we cannot reply to every inquiry.
the times Saturday March 10 2018
Travel 55
Журналы и газеты
Размер файла
28 784 Кб
The Times, journal
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа