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The Times Weekend - 14 October 2017

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Saturday October 14 2017
Jonnie Peacock on Strictly Why dancing
on TV is more stressful than the Paralympics
Weekend
Travel
Starts on
page 25
The 50 best
ski holidays
Break your
smartphone
habit
Great bargains
to book now
How to wean
yourself off
in 14 days
Chic chalets in
France and Italy
Where the fashion
set go to ski
the times Saturday October 14 2017
2 Weekend
Put the phone down How to get
It?s bad for sleep, concentration and relationships, but still
we keep on scrolling. Use this 14-day guide to help you
stop being a slave to your smartphone. By Rachel Carlyle
T
here can?t be many of us
who don?t know that
overusing our smartphones
can destroy concentration,
stop us sleeping and is
linked to depression and
anxiety. Yet still we
mindlessly scroll on.
The average iPhone user now unlocks
his or her phone 80 times a day,
according to Apple ? that?s roughly
every 12 minutes over the 16 hours that
we are awake. And one survey of
android users by the US market
researchers dscout shows that the
average adult touches, swipes and
taps his or her phone 2,617 times a day
in 76 separate sessions.
However much we may deny we have
a problem (one study at Lancaster
University showed we underestimate
by half the true time we spend on our
phones), many of us exhibit some of
the signs of addictive behaviour as set
out by one of the UK?s leading experts,
Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham
Trent University. That includes the
phone causing conflict with a partner or
your family, getting in the way of
important things that we should be
doing, feeling irritable if we can?t use it
and increasing our use over time.
It is no accident that we can?t control
ourselves because app design is based on
the same psychological principle as
gambling. Yet in Silicon Valley the
people responsible for our addiction
are weaning themselves off their own
products. Digital detoxes and
?dumbphone? ownership are now cool.
Justin Rosenstein, the man who helped
to invent Facebook?s ?like? button, has
turned off his phone?s notifications,
banned himself from Snapchat (which
he compares to heroin) and has installed
a parental-control app for himself.
There is evidence that the other group
of heavy users ? teenagers ? are also
feeling uneasy about their habits.
A survey this month of 5,000
schoolchildren (commissioned by the
Headmasters? and Headmistresses?
Conference, the association for head
teachers of independent schools) found
that 56 per cent believed they were on
the edge of addiction, and 71 per cent
had tried digital detoxing.
Of the rest of us, 38 per cent think we
use our phones too much, according to
Deloitte?s annual phone-use survey
published last month.
?Some people are addicted, but for
most of us it?s a dependency and a habit,?
says Tanya Goodin, the founder of the
digital-detox campaign Time to Log Off
and the author of Off (Ilex, �99). ?But
one that?s fairly easily broken, I?ve found,
and perfectly possible to do in 14 days.?
Week one
Days 1-3
Buy an alarm clock
This is the single most important first
step, Goodin says. ?People claim to sleep
with their phones just so they can use
them as an alarm, but the amount of
idle browsing that goes on when you
wake up next to your phone is
phenomenal,? she says. Banishing your
phone from the bedroom will help you
to get to sleep quicker because you are
exposed to less of the blue light that
stops your body producing the sleep
hormone melatonin. Goodin suggests
creating a centralised charging area
away from bedrooms, where all phones
should be placed an hour before
bedtime, until after breakfast.
Have a digital-free
dinner table
This is an essential step to loosening
your phone?s hold over you: put it away
in a kitchen drawer or another room,
rather than in your pocket, where you
may be distracted by its pings. ?This
was our golden rule from the start ? no
excuses that you need your phone to
control Spotify,? says Mark Ellis, the
author of Digitox (CultureTransform,
�95) and a former tech junkie who
started family tech-free Sundays three
years ago. Phone-free dinners improve
sociability and bonding, and are essential
for families. If you?re out with friends,
stack the phones face down in the centre
of the table ? the first one to pick theirs
up pays the bill. Or use Goodin?s trick:
she now puts her phone on airplane
mode when out for dinner, so not even
calls can get through.
Get the Checky app
Keep a daily log of your phone use,
noting any particularly intense periods.
?It?s about being aware of how many
times you pick it up, and what you?re
using it for,? says Dr Richard Graham,
who set up the UK?s first technologyaddiction clinic at the Nightingale
Hospital in London. ?If we are more
conscious of what we?re doing, it often
leads to a better balance.? Somewhat
ironically, there are apps to help.
Checky monitors how often you
unlock your phone (the founder
discovered that he did it 180 times a
day; now he tries to stay under 100).
Moment (for iOS) tracks how long you
are on your phone each day and which
apps get the heaviest use.
Leave your phone at home
when you go to the shops
The average
adult touches,
swipes and
taps their
phone 2,617
times a day
Go out of the house for a short period
each day without your phone. This could
be a trip out over the weekend or for
15 minutes during a lunch break at work.
Going out with it turned off or on
airplane mode does not count ? you
have to be without it. ?The first time I
did this it felt like a major deal,? Goodin
says. ?I felt anxious because I hadn?t
been anywhere without it for such a long
time; I kept patting my pocket reflexively
to check if it was there. Then I extended
the time out without it, walking the dog
without the phone, then progressing to
meals out. It feels odd at first, then
normal.? What you are doing is
exercising your digital-detox muscle,
she adds. ?You have to work out how to
engage it before you can start the
heavy lifting.?
Days 4-7
Keep your phone out of sight
when you don?t need it
?If you were on a diet, you wouldn?t
walk around with a chocolate bar in your
hand,? Goodin says, ?so keep your phone
out of sight when you?re doing
something else. Keep it in another room
or, best of all, in a drawer to avoid that
?twitchy? feeling when you feel
compelled to look at it.? One US study
this summer showed that people?s
concentration waned when carrying
out a demanding mental task even if
their phone was turned off, but still near
by. Those who did best had put their
phones in another room.
Turn off notifications
Just hearing bleeps and pings and
catching sight of the phone screen
lighting up with ?urgent? news is as
distracting as responding to a call or
message, a study at Florida State
University found. Go through each app
on your phone and turn off notifications,
starting with social media apps, then
messaging apps. You will be in august
company: this is the way many in Silicon
Valley now work. Start scheduling your
phone use, Dr Graham advises. ?Have
certain times you check your phone
and times you don?t, so you?re building in
a structure to your day and giving
yourself respite from the stimulation,
to refresh the neurochemicals in your
brain that are essential to concentration
and wellbeing.?
Have a work email curfew
Ideally, don?t look at it after 7pm if your
boss is happy with that, or by 8pm at the
latest, Goodin says. If you feel that is
frowned upon, try to engineer a
conversation at work. ?I understand
that the culture comes from the top, so
next time you are having a team
conversation in the office, suggest
talking about the effect that these
constant work emails are having on
your productivity.? Set strict weekend
and holiday checking rules. ?I learnt a
good trick from Arianna Huffington.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Weekend 3
control of your habit
COVER: PHILIPPE BIANCOTTO/FIGAROPHOTO/CAMERA PRESS. BELOW: LIAM NORRIS/GETTY IMAGES
runs a tech-detox campaign in the US,
only has apps that perform a single
useful function on his home screen, such
as Google Maps and Uber. If hiding apps
is not enough to deter you, delete the
app and access the site by typing it into
Safari/Google and logging in. You
probably won?t bother.
Have you joined
the autumn bare
legs brigade?
T
Have one phone-free
day every weekend
Plan for one day a week without your
phone from next week: the holy
grail for tech detoxers. That means
either minimal use or no use ? no
apps or browsing. ?It?s a healthy goal to
have; it doesn?t matter if you don?t always
achieve it,? Goodin says. Ideally, this
would progress to a whole weekend, or a
weekday evening and a weekend day.
This may not always be possible, but, as
Goodin says: ?At least if it?s your aim,
you?re going to be spending a big chunk
of time in those two days off your phone.
I?ve found people generally rediscover
reading and going outside, which are
both pretty healthy.?
FAKE FUR,
LEGS OUT
Olivia Palermo
Days 11-14
Have at least one room in
your house that?s tech-free
Make one room completely phone-free,
Goodin suggests, such as the sitting
room ? especially when the whole
family are doing something together,
such as watching TV. It?s important
that all phones are kept outside the
room, so that no one is tempted
to sneak a look.
Use a parental control
app for yourself
My auto-response when I?m away for
the weekend or on holiday is that all
emails will be automatically deleted, so
please resend on my return if it?s
important. Actually, that?s technically
impossible, but no one has ever
questioned it. Last week when I was off
for six days I had 500 emails, but only
three were resent on Monday
when I returned. That tells
you everything you need
to know about emails.?
Week two
Days 8-10
Don?t touch
it when you
are bored
This week do not
allow yourself to pick
up your phone when
waiting for something (the
play to begin, the bus to arrive or
the kettle to boil) or when you are on
public transport. ?Virtually every
opportunity for downtime is taken away
by our phones, but everyone should be
bored for 15 minutes a day because it is
relaxing and promotes creativity,?
says the psychologist Dr Sandi Mann
of the University of Central
Lancashire. Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, who
researched adult phone use for her
new book, Unplugged Parenting
(Headline, �,99), says she doesn?t
allow herself to pick up her phone
reflexively. ?If I do have
unexpected free time, I try
to think and to enjoy some
headspace, which tech
takes away
from us.?
Declutter your
home screen
Just glimpsing an app?s
icon is enough
to trigger the desire
to open it and see
what you are missing. Get
round the temptation by
pruning your home screen of classic
time-wasting apps. You can move them
to the second page and put them into
folders, which will put two extra steps in
your way. Tristan Harris, a former
Google developer who now
Check out OurPact, which sets
timers and blocks certain apps, and
Kidslox, which shuts down the
phone when a time limit is reached.
There are also products aimed at
adults. Besides tracking usage, the
Moment app has a ?phone bootcamp?
that sends guilt-inducing notifications
to cut down usage. AppDetox lets you
set limits on how often an app can be
opened in a given period, and
Anti-Social shuts social media apps
down once you?ve reached your
self-imposed limit. Or try something
more hardcore: Flipd completely
locks your home screen during times
you set (there is an emergency
call button).
Use a brick phone some
of the time
Ever since the classic brick phone ?
the Nokia 3310 was relaunched
this year ? it has been cool to own
a dumbphone, especially if you
can insert your smartphone?s Sim
card so you can use the same number
(you may need an adaptor). There are
models from Samsung and Alcatel
from �.99. Or if you don?t want
to compromise on design, the
Punkt MP01 (�9) is slimmer and
prettier, and can import your
contacts via USB. The Light Phone
(an American product, available
internationally from October 30
for �4) is designed to be a second
phone for digital detox days; it only
makes and receives calls ? you
can?t even text.
BARE LEGS
WITH BOOTS
Alicia Vikander
NO TIGHTS
FOR WORK
Amal Clooney
here?s a discreet battle of
one-upmanship being waged right
now, and it?s all about bare legs. It
used to be that come September, as
soon as we?d said a heartbreaking goodbye
to our tan lines, most women would have
cracked open a new packet of black tights.
This autumn, however, the brave among
us still have bare legs under our skirts in
mid-October. It?s a matter of pride.
I will go bare-legged into November
if I can manage it, but then I do work
in the fashion business.
Fashion people, probably in an
attempt to be more like the very
wealthy, have long preferred to
pretend that tights don?t exist. Browse
street-style pictures or any set of catwalk
show front rows you like ? even during
freezing New York Fashion Week in
February ? and you?ll find very
glamorous Cond� Nast employees with
impossibly toned, enviably tanned and
nonsensically naked calves. When the
temperature drops to minus 8C in
Manhattan, it?s simply a cue to throw on
some fur and tell the driver to
park closer to the entrance.
The nearest thing most of us
have to a chauffeur is a bus
driver, so how are we steeling
ourselves to stay bare? Yes, it
has been relatively mild, but
fashion trends are also in
our favour. This year the
most stylish skirts are long
? certainly below the
knee. With a quick shave
and a slap of tinted
moisturiser to hide the grey
hue of our extremities,
we?re good to go.
There?s another factor too,
at least among the trendy: the
rise of ankle boots with socks.
Previously considered a fashion
irrelevance, worn only out of
boring necessity, suddenly socks
are an It purchase and it?s
fashionable to let them be
seen just peeking out of your
boots. Now that our ankles
are cosy, it?s a lot easier to
resist the siren call of the
Wolford opaques.
So when will the tough
finally falter? It?s difficult
to predict ? I can only
say that there will be a
shared understanding
that it is time. Those
who turn to tights too
soon look plain wrong, as
if they?d shown up at a
wedding in a sombrero. But if you hang in
w
there a bit too long, the only negative
consequence will be a mild bout of
hypothermia. It?s a small price to pay for
showing that you are tougher and more
chic than your peers.
I understand that we don?t all have this
kind of style stamina, but if you?re finding
yourself craving the 60-deniers already, I?d
advise you to grit your teeth. There is no
moment more dispiriting than the first
time that you push your lower limbs, big
toe first, into a twisted mess of nylon
knowing that you?re stuck with tights
for the next six dreary months.
Hattie Crisell is acting fashion editor
of The Times
the times Saturday October 14 2017
4 Body + Soul
I?ve been hiding
my Asperger?s
most of my life
BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham says he used
to be ostracised for being different. Now he sees his
condition as a gift, he tells Julia Llewellyn Smith
T
he BBC wildlife presenter
Chris Packham is sitting
hunched in a hotel bar in
central London, hands
squeezed between his
knees and studiously
avoiding eye contact as
he talks rapidly and fluently. ?There?ll
be a point when I?ll want to move that
bottle because it?s not orderly,? he says,
nodding at some water on a sideboard.
?But I?m happy with my glass because
it?s symmetrical with the pattern
on the table.?
Packham, 56, grew up in
Southampton, the son of a
housewife and an engineer. He
was an odd child, obsessed with
nature, but no one thought of
labelling him ?different?.
In fact, he has Asperger?s
syndrome, a subtype of autism
that affects how people make
sense of the world and relate to
others, and which he explores in a
moving BBC documentary,
Asperger?s and Me.
?Mental health was never discussed,?
the Springwatch and Autumnwatch
presenter says. ?My parents just thought
I was a bit quirky: ?He doesn?t fit in.? If
your child talks about the tawny owl at
dinner for 15 minutes you think that?s
just the way kids are. I remember them
just going off and doing the washing-up
while I talked on.?
A man who finds communicating a
challenge, loathes socialising (he hasn?t
been to a party in ten years) and can?t
pronounce his r?s sounds an improbable
TV presenter, but Packham?s enthusing
about the mating habits of voles have
earned him a devoted fanbase, few of
whom could have guessed his condition.
?I?ve been hiding it most of my life,? he
says. ?There?ve been 30 years of trying to
act normal when at times I?m anything
but . . . it?s been immensely difficult. I
fought it. I didn?t want to be different.?
Packham is high-cheekboned and
youthful-looking in chic head-to-toe
black, his once peroxide Billy Idol hair
now a neat, greying quiff, a nod to the
punkdom of his youth. (?Punk
empowered me,? he says. ?It sounded
like I was ? confused and angry.?)
At his comprehensive school he was
badly bullied. He decided that the only
way to cope with his zoology degree at
Southampton University was by
avoiding all human interaction. ?That
was a horror show,? he says. ?The only
Packham on the
TV show Secrets of
our Living Planet
Mental health
was never
discussed. My
parents just
thought I was
a bit quirky
person I spoke to for three years was the
bus conductor. Life was inordinately
punishing and alienating and depressing.?
He feared that he was unemployable,
but his younger sister Jenny, the
fashion designer, who appears in the
documentary, suggested that he employ
his encyclopaedic knowledge of nature
as a TV presenter. ?She said, ?You could
bore the rest of the world about wildlife,
not just our family.? ?
After working as a cameraman,
Packham won a presenting job with The
Really Wild Show in 1986, consciously
training himself to look into the
camera and not be sidetracked into
interminable monologues. ?I had
to force myself to engage,? he says.
?It was exhausting.?
It was only when his acclaimed
autobiography Fingers in the
Sparkle Jar was published last
year that colleagues finally
understood his eccentricities.
?Michaela [Strachan, his
co-presenter] always knew, but the
others thought, ?God, he?s weird,? ?
Packham says. ?Now I have the badge
it?s made things easier. It?s a relief.?
Packham was 30 when he realised that
he was clinically different from others,
after a nurse girlfriend mentioned
autism, but it wasn?t until 2005 that he
received an official diagnosis from a
psychotherapist he had started seeing in
an attempt to tackle the ?catastrophic?
depression that consumed him when a
pet died, twice leading him to consider
suicide. ?I learnt from it, but it wasn?t
entirely successful,? he says.
He?s now bracing himself for the death
of his 14-year-old poodle, Scratchy. ?I
might be able to get through it and me
being hopelessly alone, but I?m not
brimming with confidence,? he says.
Packham?s eyes are squeezed tightly
shut as he continues. ?Scratchy?s my best
friend. With him you can generate
expectations and know they won?t be
failed. You can?t do that with human
beings; they will hurt you. Scratchy will
never fail me, so there?s a greater
freedom in my love for him.?
Does his partner of ten years,
Charlotte Corney, who owns the Isle of
Wight Zoo, know that she takes second
place to a dog? ?Yes, she?s fine with it,?
Packham says. ?Charlotte has three
elderly tigers. She loves them with a
similar gravity. That?s one of the key
things that makes us compatible.?
Man and dog live alone in a stylish
Could you be on the
spectrum? Try this test
The AQ Asperger?s
Autism Spectrum
Quotient test used
by the NHS as a
preliminary
diagnosis tool
For each question,
answer
Definitely
agree
1 I often notice small sounds when
others do not.
2 I usually concentrate more on the
whole picture, rather than the small
details.
3 I find it easy to do more than one
thing at once.
4 If there is an interruption, I can switch
back to what I was doing very quickly.
5 I find it easy to ?read between the
lines? when someone is talking to me.
6 I know how to tell if someone
listening to me is getting bored.
Slightly
agree
Slightly
disagree
Definitely
disagree
7 When I?m reading a story I find it
difficult to work out the characters?
intentions.
8 I like to collect information about
categories of things (eg types of car, types
of bird, types of train, types of plant, etc).
9 I find it easy to work out what
someone is thinking or feeling just
by looking at their face.
10 I find it difficult to work out
people?s intentions.
SCORING: Only 1 point can be scored for each question. Score 1 point for Definitely
or Slightly Agree on each of items 1, 7, 8 and 10. Score 1 point for Definitely or
Slightly Disagree on each of items 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9.
If you score more than 6 out of 10, and your concerns about possibly having
Asperger?s syndrome or autism predate you completing the questionnaire, contact
your GP. A high score alone is not diagnostic. This test is an edited version of the
AQ test, as recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
(Nice) as a preliminary diagnosis tool. It is produced by autismresearchcentre.com
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Body + Soul 5
ROBERT WILSON/CONTOUR BY GETTY IMAGES
How not to catch a
cold this season
Act now and you could get through winter unscathed.
Peta Bee knows the best ways to protect yourself
Chris Packham near his home in the New Forest
cottage in the New Forest, where
Packham categorises his fleeces by
colour and keeps the blinds permanently
closed to shut out distractions. There are
no plans to live with Corney, 43, who ?
to judge from her relaxed demeanour in
the documentary ? is not flummoxed.
?It seems impossible at times to
make progress [with Packham], but the
return is definitely worth it. He?s a
fascinating character,? she says, adding
that she hasn?t bothered telling him
about an friend?s upcoming wedding
because there?s no chance that he?ll
accompany her.
?I?ve been to a couple of weddings
with Charlotte, but it?s just been
disastrous,? he says. ?The idea that you
should share everything in relationships
is fallacious. I wouldn?t go to a wedding
with her because I?d be extremely
unhappy and I wouldn?t expect her to
see [Scottish band] the Jesus and Mary
Chain with me: she?d find it abhorrent,
while I?d find it exhilarating.?
Asperger?s and Me also features
Megan, Packham?s 21-year-old
stepdaughter from a former relationship
whom he brought up from babyhood
and with whom there?s clearly a loving
relationship. ?I never wanted children,
I think you?ve got to like yourself to
reproduce, but Megan was a very
pleasant surprise. Of all the people
I interact with, she?s the easiest because
she?s grown up alongside my Asperger?s.?
In the documentary Packham travels
to the US to observe various attempts
to ?cure? autism. The director of a
centre for applied behaviour analysis ?
intensive therapy employed to
?normalise? autistic children ?
compares the disorder to cancer,
saying that ABA (applied behaviour
analysis) is like chemotherapy.
?You can?t underestimate how
desperate parents are to help their
children, but that comment was very
shortsighted because people with autism
have an enormous skill set,? Packham
says. That only 14 per cent of people
with autism are in full-time employment,
the lowest figure for any disability, is ?a
tragic loss?, he adds.
An exception to this is California?s
Silicon Valley, where technology
companies employ large numbers of
people with autism, appreciating their
facility with computers and obsession
with detail. ?The fact that these people
cannot process things in the way most
people do should be seen as a gift,?
Packham says. ?Places like Microsoft
are full of particular minds, doing
extraordinary things, but then you have
people saying, ?Let?s force these people
to change,? rather than adapt to
accommodate them.?
Packham hopes that his film will
inspire young people with Asperger?s.
?I?d like it if it makes some kids trapped
in their bedrooms think, ?Blimey, when
Chris is making Springwatch he can
work from five until midnight non-stop
every day for three weeks, making two
hours of live TV without an Autocue
or script, remembering all those facts
about animals, and he can do all that
because he?s mentally different, so
maybe there?s something I can do with
my parallel mind.?
?Hope is always important in life,?
he says. ?As that isolated boy in the
bus queue it would have helped so much
to cast forward and see me now
managing ? actually having a pretty
good life. If you offered me a cure I?d
definitely say, ?No thanks.? ?
Chris Packham: Asperger?s and Me is
on BBC Two on Tuesday, 9pm
Zinc is as important as vitamin C
It has been estimated that adults suffer from two
to five colds a year ? and children from seven to
ten. Many of us take vast quantities of vitamin C
to prevent a cold, but perhaps we should reach for
the zinc instead. Surprisingly, there?s little concrete
evidence to suggest that vitamin C works for
everyone ? a Cochrane review (high-standard,
independent reviews of primary research) in 2013
concluded that there?s ?a failure of vitamin C
supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in
the general population?.
The review?s author did concede, however, that
supplements might work for some people, including
regular exercisers whose immune systems can be
compromised by hard training. One study from the
University of Helsinki found that a 1g daily dose of
the vitamin halved the risk of swimmers and
marathon runners catching a cold.
A more effective strategy might be to consume
plenty of zinc, which is found in red meat, oysters,
nuts and watermelon seeds, or taken as a syrup or
lozenges. A review by the Cochrane group of
15 studies suggested zinc might help to prevent colds
in people who took it for five months. A study
published in May in the Journal of the Royal Society
of Medicine Open found that zinc lozenges (in
doses of not more than 100mg a day) slashed the
duration of colds by a third. Harri Hemil�, of the
department of public health at the University of
Helsinki, says that evidence for zinc lozenges ?is so
strong that common-cold patients should be
encouraged to try them for treating their colds?.
Eat more carbohydrates
Too many people reduce their intake of starchy
carbs in the winter because they think they are
unhealthy, says the nutrition expert Ian Marber.
?You need a good intake of healthy carbs, as well
as a balance of protein and good fat to really boost
your immune system,? he says.
Soup is a proven way to get all three in one
immune-boosting meal. ?Several trials of chicken
soup have shown the meal inhibits the movement of
neutrophils, the most common type of white blood
cell that defends against infection,? Marber
says. This helps to prevent inflammation
and lessens unpleasant symptoms. ?A
chicken soup containing carbs in the
form of sweet potatoes, noodles,
parsnips, turnips, carrots was
shown to be particularly
beneficial.?
Keep up the fitness, but
cut the extreme exercise
Research suggests that
moderate exercisers can
reduce the chance of
catching a cold by up to
a third, says John Brewer,
the author of Run Smart.
Studies have shown
that levels of white blood
cells increase after
moderate exercise,
boosting the body?s
defence against infection,
although overdoing it
can tip the balance.
Heavy training in winter
can leave you up to six
times more likely to
catch a cold.
?A possible reason is that
levels of white blood cells drop
following a prolonged
workout, suppressing the
immune system and leaving a 24-hour window of
vulnerability to infection,? Brewer says.
Get at least seven hours? sleep
A chronic lack of sleep has been linked to
everything from obesity to stress. Now you can add
a greater susceptibility to colds to that list. Neil
Stanley, the former head of the University of Surrey?s
sleep research centre and now an independent
consultant, says a lack of sleep is known to suppress
immunity. ?There?s no doubt that immune,
endocrine and other bodily functions are
compromised,? he says. ?Your body can only fight
infection if you are well rested.?
Last year researchers at the University of
California analysed data from more than 22,000
people and found those who slept for five hours or
less on average a night during the week were
28 per cent more likely to report having had a
cold in the previous month.
Take a daily walk
If you do one thing every day, make it a walk. Just
being outdoors has a positive effect on the immune
system, according to a 2015 paper from the
University of Illinois. Ming Kuo, an environment and
behaviour researcher, found that time outside sends
the body into a ?rest and digest? mode, a trigger to
invest more energy into boosting immunity and the
opposite of the ?fight and flight? mode.
Numerous studies have suggested that walking
helps to lower the risks of catching a cold. One
12-week study at the Appalachian State University
found that a group of women aged between 65 and
84 almost halved their risk if they did a brisk walk of
30 to 40 minutes, five times a week.
Take a probiotic (or at least eat a yoghurt)
Boosting levels of the body?s beneficial gut bacteria
through a probiotic supplement containing
lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidus, lactobacillus casei
and other bacteria, or foods such as live yoghurt
that have some probiotic content, might help to
prevent a cold. When Korean researchers reviewed
the evidence for probiotics as a cold prevention
strategy in 2013, they found that a three-month
course of probiotics had ?a modest effect in
common-cold reduction?.
However, Japanese scientists writing in
the February edition of the European
Journal of Nutrition this year found that
?daily consumption of certain probiotics
at higher doses may prevent
disturbances in immune function? and
lower the risk of catching a cold at work.
Their trial showed that only 18 per cent
of the group taking probiotics got
an infection during the 12-week
study period, compared with 45
per cent of the control group.
Drink green tea
Green tea is rich in
polyphenols and catechins, the
plant-based compounds that
serve as an immune-boosting
antioxidant, making it a
useful weapon in the fight
against colds, Marber says.
In 2013 a Japanese study
of 2,000 people showed
that drinking one to five cups
of green tea a day reduced the
risk of being infected by cold
and flu viruses, while gargling with
it three times a day was shown to
ward off viruses in a group of
elderly people.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
6 Body + Soul
ALAMY
The �fitness
band top trainers
and athletes love
Resistance bands, last seen in the Eighties, are back ?
and used by the experts, says Peta Bee
F
orget Power Plates, medicine
balls and kettlebells. The latest
piece of fitness equipment
that everyone from A-listers
to athletes is using right now is
the resistance band.
Mo Farah was spotted performing an elaborate warm-up routine
with a band before his gold medal-winning
run at this summer?s world championships
in London, and they are part of the
training programmes of many Premier
League
football
clubs,
including
Manchester United and Chelsea. Kourtney Kardashian, Gerard Butler and Hugh
Jackman swear by them, and Zac Purchase, the Olympic gold medal-winning
rower turned trainer, uses them at his gym
in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He says that
the bands, once associated with the Green
Goddess fitness era of the 1980s, are back
in vogue for good reasons. ?They are
cheap, incredibly versatile and produce
great results. They never really went out of
fashion with top athletes, who have always
kept them in their kit bags ? and that?s
because they work.?
They are also cheap (about �online;
try Amazon and Sports Direct) and simple
to use. Made from sheets or tubes of
latex, the bands create varying levels of
resistance to strengthen and stretch muscles. If you use weights, your body
works against the force of gravity; with
bands it must work against the tension of
the latex.
?Your muscles don?t know the difference
and work as hard against the resistance of
a band as they would a weight, so the fitness effects are the same,? says Dalton
Wong, who trains Amanda Seyfried,
Jennifer Lawrence and Kit Harington ?
they all do his 15-minute resistance-band
workout. Matt Roberts, the trainer, says
that if they are used correctly they can
help to stabilise, strengthen and activate
muscles. ?You can add resistance to everything from a squat to crunches using one
of these,? he says.
Danish researchers found no significant
differences in muscle activation when they
compared the results of three upper-body
exercises using either dumbbells or bands.
Both worked equally well, they reported in
the Journal of Physical Therapy Science.
Physiotherapists like the bands because
they allow a safe range of movement and
functional exercises that mimic everyday
or sport-specific actions. ?In physical medicine, things have gone full circle and therapists are reverting to simple equipment
that actually works,? says Matt Todman,
the director of Six Physio in London.
?We use elasticated bands a lot because
they encourage better stability, allow you
to perform exercises in a controlled and
super-slow way, and are suitable for
anyone of any age or fitness level.?
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don?t miss our Best Places to Stay guide.
Discover Britain?s top 100 hotels.
Out tomorrow.
The 8-minute resistance band toning workout
1
1
2
Side-lying clams: tones
the glutes and thighs
Lie on your side with legs bent
and a band around your knees.
Keeping your hips still and level,
open one knee up like a clam,
pushing against the resistance of
the band and supporting your
head with your hand as you
raise your knee.
Return to the
Repeat
start position
these three
and repeat.
exercises
Perform this for
twice
60 seconds
before
changing sides.
1
2
Single-leg lowering: good for
the core and toning your arms
Start off lying on your back with a
small band round your ankles and
knees bent to right angles (tabletop
position). Put another small band
round your wrists. Your palms
should be facing in, arms
outstretched above your chest.
Slowly lower one leg at a time to
the floor, then raise it up again to
tabletop position. Ensure that your
lower back remains in contact
with the floor. Keep your arms
outstretched (with the band taut),
and continue for 60 seconds before
swapping to the other leg.
2
Hip ?bridge? raise: tones
the inner and outer thighs
Lie on your back with a band
around your knees. Bend your
knees and raise your hips off the
ground by using your buttock
muscles. Place your hands in
the air (put an additional band
round your wrists to tone your
arms at the same time ? keep your
arms outstretched above your
chest throughout). Slowly lower
your hips to the ground and then
raise them back up to the raised
position, tensing your buttocks
again. Perform the exercise
for 60 seconds.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Body + Soul 7
Sex addiction: who the rich
go to for rehab
TOM JACKSON FOR THE TIMES; GETTY IMAGES
suites are �000 a night,?
Monkhouse says. ?They
stayed a couple of months
without blinking an eye.?
And what does this get
you? Clients do not meet
one another. There is no
group therapy. But when
they are not engaged in
one-on-one therapy sesmagine: you are rich and you are
sions, they can expect to
powerful, but you have a problem.
be counselled about their
You?re an addict. Perhaps it?s alcohol.
addictions, be introduced to yoga,
Or drugs. Or sex. Perhaps it?s a bit of
acupuncture and reflexology, be maseverything. You want to get better,
saged, hypnotised and taken out for woodbut what do you do? Well, you check
land walks by a personal trainer. You can
into rehab. Austere rooms. Strict
also expect extensive biochemical testing:
regimens. Tough love. But remember,
proteins, vitamins, acids, minerals, the lot.
you?ve got money. Incredible amounts of
?We get the biochemical stuff and the psymoney. You don?t want austere rooms
chological stuff and the family
and tough love. You want what you?re used
stuff straightened out,? Monkto, which is to say comfort, luxury and
house says. ?And then we get
around-the-clock attention. You want
them into the fellowship,
a personal chef, your own five-star suite
Alcoholics Anonymous or
and a therapist on constant call. More
Narcotics Anonymous or
w
than anything, you want absolute privacy.
whatever.
It?s the best longIs all that too much to ask?
term aftercare there is.?
The answer is no. Far from
Which makes sense
it. There is, in 2017, a
for alcoholics or drug
booming industry catering
addicts. But what about
to precisely these demands
sex addiction? It?s a disand the multimillionaires
order that is not yet
who make them. Welcategorised as an illn
come to the world off
ness by the American
P
super-rich rehab.
Psychiatric Associattion and is one that
If, as has been widely
m
reported, Harvey Weinmany
researchers
d
stein is undergoingg
doubt even exists. And
x
treatment for sex
yet, despite this, the
addiction, this is the
number of people ?
world into which he hass
including the superretreated. It is a cloister-rich ? seeking treated realm of comfort, in-ment for it continues
dulgence and outrato grow.
geous expense. To give
On Wednesday
you some idea, a week att
the Hollywood
p
The Priory might cost
producer Weinh
you �000. This is nothstein boarded a
ing. Along what has beprivate plane in
come known as Malibu?s
the midst of
h
?Rehab Riviera?, facilities such
accusations he
as Cliffside (favoured byy
had assaulted
Lindsay Lohan) and Promisess
or harassed 30
Harvey Weinstein and his wife,
w
(alumni Robert Downey Jr,
women. ?Guys,
Georgina Chapman, who has left him
II?m not doing
Charlie Sheen) can charge
O
between �,000 and �,000 a
OK, but I?m trying.
I gotta get help,? he
month. Or there?s The Meadows
d
in Arizona, where a specialised
told photographers as
45-day sex addiction treatmentt
left for the airport. But
costs �,000.
what might this help
Even that, though, pales when
look like? What
compared with the K黶nacht Pracwould it involve?
tice in Zurich, the most expensive
Johan Sorensen
iis an addiction
rehab facility in the world. It costs
ttherapist
close to �000 a day, and clients
who
must commit to a minimum of one
works with the
month?s treatment. Many sign up
super-rich, and
for three. Those seeking help havee
whose clients
included oligarchs, sheikhs, aristoinclude Hollyw
crats and, according to its founder,
wood actors,
rrock stars and
Lowell Monkhouse, at least one
h
e
?world-famous Hollywood actress?.
heiresses.
He talks
W
Apparently one client, for the duraabout the casee of Weinstein.
?Some people
d
tion of his treatment, block-booked
call it addiction. Certainly, in the States,
20 suites in a nearby five-star hotel forr
where this story broke, the media has
his family and entourage. ?Some of those
called it ?addiction?. I generally would call
As Harvey Weinstein checks into
a clinic, leading therapists tell
Ben Machell how they treat the
world?s most wealthy and powerful
I
Therapists Mat
thew Mervyn-Jo
nes,
left, and Johan
Sorensen
it sexually
lly compulsive
i ti
behaviour. But we can call it sex addiction.
And his behaviour certainly falls under
that category.?
Is he surprised that a man in Weinstein?s
position might claim to be a sex addict?
?It?s entirely unsurprising,? he says. ?And
in Hollywood, it?s endemic.?
It?s important, he says, to understand the
role of power in cases such as these. ?You
can get people who are sex addicts where
it?s all about just sexually acting out in
whatever form, or you can get people for
whom it is specifically about their need to
exert power or control.?
Sorensen says that treating the superrich is much harder than treating the
average person. On one occasion, for
instance, he was transporting a client who
was high on cocaine in a private jet. She
stripped naked and tried to seize control of
The level of luxury
that celebrities now
expect to find in
rehab is remarkable
the plane. She had to be restrained by
Sorensen and her two bodyguards. ?If
people don?t have consequences to their
behaviours or actions, that makes them
harder to treat,? he says. ?It does sound like
[Weinstein] has now had consequences, or
has been forced into having consequences,
after many years of complicity and people
remaining silent. But [addicts] are often
very intelligent, forceful personalities who
can be quite difficult to treat.?
Exactly what form that treatment takes
depends on where your super-rich sex
addict decides to go. ?If he?s in one of the
traditional sex addiction clinics in the
States, they are generally a 12-step approach
treatment clinic. He?d arrive, be assessed by
a psychiatrist and a therapist team. He?d attend group and individual therapy and 12step meetings. He may or may not be sharing a room, depending on the clinic.?
Of course, our super-rich sex addict
might balk at sharing a room. In which
case, he could always head to Zurich.
?If he?s going somewhere like K黶nacht,
he will be put in a villa or a suite in a hotel,?
Sorensen says. ?He will be assigned a therapist who will basically live with him, as
well as any other services they decide are
appropriate. He probably won?t interact
with any other clients. If he wants a chef or
a butler or any of those
th
things, they are provided.?
Another therapist who
h
helps the A-listers and
aaristocrats is Matthew
Mervyn-Jones, 46, who
M
offers
discreet
?sober
o
ccoaching? to clients. He is
w
well-connected (his sisterin
in-law is Cressida Bonas,
P
Prince Harry?s former girlfr
friend) and has done the
12 steps himself. ?I think free
p
pornography online has
in
increased sex addiction,? he
says
says. ?Money and power allows any addict
to escape the consequences of their addiction more easily, which helps perpetuate
the denial common with all addictions.?
The level of luxury that celebrities now
expect to find in rehab is remarkable, and
stands in stark contrast to the ascetic conditions pioneered by earlier facilities such
as the Betty Ford Center. But with competition intensifying and such vast amounts
of money at stake, what becomes the ultimate goal? Making the super-rich clients
better? Or just keeping them happy for the
duration of their stay? ?What?s terrifying,?
Sorensen says, ?is when you hear clients
saying, ?Have you been to the new suchand-such?, as if it?s the new Aman hotel.?
Online, you can find an angry blog written by a man called Scott Alpert, who had
previously worked at a Californian rehab
facility. ?At the Malibu treatment centre
where I worked, the focus was on caring
for the client?s creature comforts instead of
healing their core issues that contributed
to their substance abuse, alcohol abuse or
other addictive behaviour. How could we?
We didn?t have a programme at all! Yes, we
had group therapy ? when the clients
were there. Yes, there were individual sessions ? when you can track a client down.
But treatment wasn?t the main focus.
Keeping the customer happy was.?
At least in Zurich, at the K黶nacht Practice, they are not falling over themselves to
find new clients. They treat only six people
at a time, and no more than 30 in a year.
?One of the key reasons that we are the
most effective treatment centre in the
world is that we tailor our treatment,? says
Eduardo Greghi, the practice?s co-owner
and head of client relations. ?A 16-year-old
anorexic coming from the US will have a
completely different team of professionals
treating her than, for example, a 30-yearold male athlete who is addicted to
cocaine. There is a long screening process.
Often we need to sign contracts before
they disclose who they really are.?
And some people are turned away. For all
their wealth and power, not everybody is
admitted to the most expensive rehabilitation facility on the planet. ?I will speak to the
patient before bringing it to the team. Then
our medical director has a conversation
with the patient. If they believe that we can
change a patient?s life, and that they are
ready for that, then we will take them on.
But if we believe a person is being pushed by
a relative, or the media, then we do not want
to waste that client?s money or time,? Greghi
says. ?We will refer them somewhere else.?
Additional reporting by Hannah Rogers
the times Saturday October 14 2017
8 Body + Soul
She only wants me
when she?s tipsy
Suzi Godson
Sex counsel
Q
I?ve been dating a
woman for six months
and I really like her.
The only problem is that
she seems to want to have
sex with me only after she
has been drinking. We are
in our early thirties and
going out is a big part of
our lives, but it?s weird that
after so long she still feels
that she needs to be a bit
drunk to have sex with me
Women who
have been
drinking take
longer to
orgasm as
alcohol dulls
nerve sensation
A
lcohol is a paradox because
it requires us to hold
simultaneous but conflicting
understandings about its
effects. Anyone who drinks knows
that alcohol can make you feel happier,
funnier, chattier and sexier. In fact, the
National Social Life, Health and Ageing
Project (2008) study, involving more
than 3,000 men and women aged 57
to 85 in the US, found that women who
drank alcohol daily reported more
interest and pleasure in their sexual
activity than those who did not.
Quantity matters, though, of course.
Because it affects the central nervous
system, alcohol can produce feelings of
euphoria, relaxation and extraversion,
but only in small amounts. Decreased
inhibition increases subjective sexual
desire and arousal, so people who have
had a few drinks are often more open
to the idea of sex and, indeed, may be
more sexually experimental while a little
tipsy. The twist is that alcohol also
lowers physiological arousal, so although
people who are a bit merry might think
that they are up for it, their bodies don?t
necessarily agree. Women who have
been drinking experience diminished
lubrication and, because alcohol dulls
nerve sensation, take much longer to
achieve orgasm. And when it happens, it
is not as strong as it might otherwise be.
As you seem to have identified, the
reason your girlfriend drinks before sex
is because it makes her feel less
self-conscious. She is by no means alone
in that.
The actress Julie Walters confessed in
a recent interview that she did not have
sober sex until she met her husband
because she had been far too shy. That
was 30 years ago, and not much has
changed.
In fact, women are drinking more than
ever. It used to be the case that men
were more likely than women to drink
alcohol, and far more likely to
experience alcohol-related problems.
Now, there is barely any difference
between the genders.
Using alcohol as a crutch is never a
great idea, but your girlfriend is unlikely
to change her behaviour unless you
challenge it. It won?t be easy because, if
her drinking began as a way of masking
feelings of insecurity, stopping will
require her to face that vulnerability.
One of best ways to try to address
this issue would be to get away for a
few days together. Being with each
other 24/7 will give you the time and
space to talk about how things are
going between you and to explore why
alcohol seems to be such a fundamental
part of her desire. She may be defensive
about it, so be sensitive and explain that
all you really want is for her to feel
relaxed enough to be intimate without
having to rely on alcohol. While you
are away, insist on sober sex. That
means no sex when she has been
drinking ? and no hangover sex,
when her blood alcohol content is
still likely to be higher than it
should be, either. Be patient, and
when you do have sex make sure
that the experience is more
rewarding for her than it is for
you.
She may be a little
nervous at first,
but her body is likely to
be much more sensitive
than it is when she has
been drinking, and as
a result her climax
will be more intense.
Neurologically, the
dopamine rush at
orgasm has much
the same effect as a
couple of glasses of
prosecco, but it?s a
much healthier
alternative and there?s
no hangover.
Send your queries to
weekendsex@
thetimes.co.uk or
write to Suzi at
The Times,
Weekend, 1 London
Bridge Street, London
SE1 9GF
Ask
Marie O?Riordan
Q
My boss openly flirts
with my girlfriend at
work parties. She had
been happy to laughingly
fend him off, but recently
he got quite angry when
she refused to dance with
him. It?s frowned upon if
partners don?t go, but I don?t
know how to make it stop.
A
Your boss sounds like an awful
boor with an arrogant sense of
entitlement. It?s a hoary tale in
which he assumes that his
power over you will dictate your
response to be one of quiet compliance.
I understand why you might struggle to
take the matter up with him directly: it?s
hard to imagine someone like him
reacting in anything but a threatening
manner . But not responding is also not
an option.
I do not understand quite why you
Your boss sounds like
an awful boor with a
sense of entitlement
subject your girlfriend to these grisly
events and to his attentions. You have
made the parties sound like antediluvian
affairs. You say it would be frowned
upon for partners not to attend, but it?s
only frowning.
Realistically, not taking your girlfriend
along cannot damage your career, if that
is what?s worrying you. My advice is to
stop forcing her to attend these awful
occasions. Failing that, if she?s game, you
could agree that she goes, but is free to
tell your boss to get lost if he continues
to hassle her. No one should have to
tolerate this level of aggression.
Remember, though, your girlfriend
must drive her decision whether to
attend. You must support her, whatever
route she chooses, so your boss doesn?t
continue to get away with sexist conduct.
Send your queries for Marie to
weekend@thetimes.co.uk
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the times Saturday October 14 2017
Body + Soul 9
Strictly?s tougher than running
DAVID VENNI/TIME.INC
The Paralympian
Jonnie Peacock
talks to Damian
Whitworth about
competing in the
hit TV dance show
J
onnie Peacock has won two
Paralympic 100m gold medals
and two world championships
golds, but none of these
achievements has been as
stressful as performing on
Strictly Come Dancing. ?Just
before the music starts my heart is going
at a thousand beats a minute,? he says.
Is he more nervous than he was at
London 2012? ?Yeah! For a race you?ve
got years to prepare, whereas this is like
saying, ?Right, we?ve got a Paralympic
games, but you?ve never run before and
you have two weeks to prepare for it.?
Before Strictly, Peacock, 24, the first
contestant with a disability to appear
on the show, restricted his dancing to
occasional sallies after several drinks
when he was pretty sure that no one
would remember how he looked.
My mum is rather
emotional. She?s, like,
?This is the first time
I?ve seen you dance?
His right leg was amputated below
the knee when he had meningitis as
a five-year-old. His reluctance to dance
at parties, however, was a lack of
confidence rather than an inability to
move freely. ?It?s just more about being
self-conscious and thinking, ?I?m
probably going to make a fool of myself.?
That?s quite an obstacle to overcome.?
He has acquitted himself well so far.
He and his professional partner,
Oti Mabuse, were seventh out of
fourteen pairs last week, which should
be good for his confidence before
tonight?s fourth outing. As well as last
Saturday?s more than passable paso
doble, he has successfully negotiated the
waltz and switched from his ?day leg?,
which fits a shoe, to a specially made
version of his running blade, to give
him enough bounce to jive. The BBC has
kept a camera fixed on his joyfully
weepy mother, Linda.
?She?s rather emotional,? Peacock says
when we meet at a Leicester dance
studio where he and Mabuse are
practising. ?It just gets so emotional
sometimes because she wasn?t sure if
she?d ever see me again. And then there
was the first time she saw me walk, and
then she got emotional the first time she
saw me run, and obviously in London
when she saw me win. And now she?s,
like, ?This is the first time I?ve seen you
dance.? So it?s again one of those things
she never thought she?d see me do.?
Peacock, who has three sisters, says
Jonnie Peacock.
k Above:
performing the jive with
Oti Mabuse on Strictly
Jonnie
Peacock?s
perfect
weekend
that his illness and the amputation
were tougher for his family than his
five-year-old self. ?Pretty much everyone
around you probably deals with it more
intensely than you do. When you?re
five you don?t really know what?s
happening. I woke up and I didn?t really
understand. I can see that my leg is gone
and that?s upsetting. But my mum, my
dad, everyone around me saw how close
it was to me not being there at all.?
As he grew up he developed a love of
sport and a drive to compete. ?People
with a disability can either go one way or
the other. Some people have a tendency
to dwell on it and see the negativity, and
it can be quite hard to overcome. Other
people go, ?No, I?m not going to take
Lazy lie-in or up at dawn?
Lie-in
Tracksuit or suit?
In between
Radio 1 or Radio 4?
Radio 1
Cosy night in or rowdy
night out?
Cosy night in
Modern thriller or
classic?
Modern thriller
Wine or water?
I drink so much water,
three to four litres a day
British seaside or
Paris minibreak?
Paris
I couldn?t get through
the weekend without . . .
A lie-in
th I?m going to try and push past it.
that.
W
What
can I do? What can I achieve?
I?m not going to just think about
wa
walking,
I?m going to think about
running.?
It?s all [about] overcoming.?
ru
Sometimes his prosthetic leg
caused
painful sores when he
ca
walked
home from school. ?But it
wa
ne
never
meant that I?d stop going to
sch
school.
I?d be in an incredible
am
amount
of pain, but you just push
pa that. I?d still want to play
past
foo
football.
I wasn?t going to sit there
an say, ?Oh, my leg?s sore, I want
and
to play football but I can?t.? That
ne
never
crossed my mind.?
Peacock?s parents split before his
me
meningitis
scare. He lived with his
mo
mother
until he was 11, then spent
fiv years with his father before
five
mo
mov
moving
in with his mother again.
He is close to both parents, who
ha supported his athletics career.
have
W
When
he was 15 his mother took
him to a British Paralympic
As
Association
scouting day, during
wh
which
he tried various sports. He
set
settled
on sprinting ? and things
mo
moved
quickly. He was 19 when he
wo gold in London, taking Oscar
won
Pis
Pistorius?s
crown and bursting into
the national consciousness.
?People ask, ?What is the legacy of
Lo
London
2012?? If you can take one
thi from it, the way that it changed
thing
pe
people?s
perceptions of disability
alo is worth all the money they
alone
spe on it. It made people turn from
spent
fee
feeling
sorry for someone with
dis
disability
to look at someone with
ab
blade, or someone in a race chair,
an think, ?Actually, that?s really cool.? ?
and
P
Peacock,
whose easy-going manner
belies his fierce competitiveness, is
taking a break from athletics and does
not expect to race in 2018. ?I want a year
where I just don?t think about sport too
much. I don?t have to train six days a
week, I can see my family, I can get
drunk . . . maybe not have too many
burgers because I don?t want to come
back in 2019 and then suddenly be
a shot putter instead of a sprinter.
But I want to enjoy myself a bit more
next year and to mentally refresh.?
Outside athletics, he enjoys walking
his two French bulldogs and going for
the odd meal with his girlfriend, the
Paralympic 400m runner Sally Brown.
He has the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo
in his sights. Victory in the 100m T44
class (for those with amputations below
one knee) would be a Usain Bolt-type
hat-trick of 100m golds.
When Peacock dances on Strictly
the untutored viewer can?t tell he
has only one leg. The faults the
judges have spotted mostly relate
to his upper body movement and
his minimal ability to inhabit the
character he is playing. ?Nice butt,?
said Bruno Tonioli, before instructing
him to keep it tucked in.
He doesn?t find learning all the
complicated moves easy but he?d like
to keep going for a few more weeks.
?If I can come out with the ability to at
least dance half-decent for my wedding
day maybe, then that?s a massive bonus.?
So is there a wedding coming up?
?No, no, no. Not yet! I?m just saying
for the future.?
Strictly Come Dancing continues
tonight on BBC One at 6.45pm
the times Saturday October 14 2017
10
the times Saturday October 14 2017
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the times Saturday October 14 2017
12 Food + Drink
Easy pies and tarts Six delicious
Strawberry frangipane tart
Potato and cheese pie
From an indulgent potato and cheese pie
to a fruit crostata, try these recipes from
the chefs Matt Wilkinson and Sharlee Gibb
Bacon & egg pie
Serves 4 plus leftovers
Ingredients
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
1 butter puff pastry sheet (375g)
6 free-range eggs
4 free-range bacon rashers,
roughly chopped
200g cauliflower, cut into small florets
100ml milk
60g grated cheddar
Pinch of salt flakes
� tbsp finely chopped parsley
(optional)
� tbsp finely chopped chives
(optional)
For the tomato relish
500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and
roughly chopped
1 white onion, peeled and diced
100g demerara sugar
70ml apple-cider vinegar
1 tsp sea salt flakes
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
Method
1 First make the tomato relish. Place
everything into a heavy-based 3-litre
capacity saucepan over a medium-low
heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer,
stirring occasionally, for 1� hours, until it
has a chutney-like consistency. Take off
the heat. Any that you don?t use can
be put in a sterilised jar and kept in a
cupboard for at least a year, or open
and refrigerated for three months.
2 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
Brush a 30cm x 22cm x 5cm pie dish
with olive oil.
3 Line the oiled dish with the puff
pastry sheet, then brush it
with oil and prick the base all over
with a fork. Bake for 10 min, until the
pastry is risen, but still pale, then
remove the tin from the oven and
press the pastry down with your
fingers to flatten.
4 While your pastry is par-cooking,
whisk the eggs together in a bowl.
Add the bacon, cauliflower, milk,
cheese, salt and chopped herbs,
if using, and stir to combine.
5 Pour the filling into the pre-baked
pastry and bake for 20?25 min, or
until the filling is cooked through
and has just set, with no wobbly
bits. Serve warm or cold with the
tomato relish.
Baked
courgette tart
Serves 4
Ingredients
4 small courgettes, grated
Pinch of salt flakes
1 white onion, finely diced
4 free-range bacon rashers,
roughly chopped
75g self-raising flour
5 free-range eggs
125ml milk
80g grated cheddar (use more
or less as you prefer)
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
Method
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
Line a 25cm x 25cm x 6cm baking tin
with baking paper.
2 Add the courgette and salt to a
colander and mix together well.
Squeeze the courgette over the sink to
remove any excess moisture, then
transfer to a bowl with the onion, bacon
and flour. Mix well.
3 In a separate bowl beat the eggs
together well, add the milk and whisk.
Pour the egg mixture into the courgette,
add half the cheese and combine.
4 Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Lay the sliced tomatoes over the top in
a random pattern and sprinkle over the
pumpkin seeds, if using, then scatter
over the rest of the cheese. Bake for
40?50 min, until the slice is cooked
through and the cheese on top
is browned.
5 Remove from the oven and leave
to rest for 10 min before cutting.
Serve warm or cold on its own or with
vegetables or a green salad.
Potato & cheese pie
Serves 4
Ingredients
4 all-purpose potatoes, cut into
4?5cm chunks
300g plain flour
160g salted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 white onion, finely sliced
50g cream cheese
65g grated cheddar or Swiss cheese
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 handful fresh herbs (such as parsley,
tarragon or chives), finely chopped
1 tbsp milk
Salad leaves, to serve
Method
1 Cook the potatoes for 20min, until soft.
2 While the potato is cooking, prepare
the pastry. Place the flour in a large
Recipes taken from
Mr & Mrs Wilkinson?s
How it is at Home by
Matt Wilkinson and
Sharlee Gibb (Hardie
Grant, �)
bowl, add the butter and rub in with
your fingertips, until it resembles rough
breadcrumbs. Add the egg little by little
to form a soft dough, saving some egg
for later. Turn the dough on to a floured
surface and knead until smooth, then
wrap in baking paper and leave in the
fridge for 30 min to firm.
3 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and
line a baking tray with baking paper.
4 Drain the cooked potato and place
in a bowl. Add the onion and cream
cheese and mix gently (the potato
should be lumps rather than mash),
then stir in grated cheese, chilli sauce
and herbs.
5 Roll out the pastry into a rough circle
about 5mm thick. Spoon the potato
into the centre, leaving a border of 5cm,
then fold the sides up towards the
centre to form the edges (the pastry
won?t cover the pie completely and can
be rough and uneven).
6 Combine the milk and leftover egg and
brush over the pastry. Bake for 30 min,
until the pastry is golden and flaky.
Serve with a salad.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Food + Drink 13
dishes to bake for autumn
PATRICIA NIVEN
Baked courgette tart
Apricot and berry crostata
Apricot &
berry crostata
Serves 8
Ingredients
150g cold unsalted butter, cut
into 1cm cubes
200g plain flour
100g sour cream
400g mixed berries (raspberries,
blueberries and strawberries)
100g apricots, quartered and
stones removed
100g nectarines, quartered and
stones removed
50g demerara sugar
1 free-range egg yolk, beaten
Vanilla ice cream or softly whipped
cream, to serve
Bacon and egg pie
Peach tartlets
Makes 4
Ingredients
2 large ready-to-eat peaches,
quartered, or 4 small peaches, halved
and stones removed
2 tbsp honey
8 small thyme sprigs
1 butter puff pastry sheet (375g)
Vanilla ice cream or whipped
cream, to serve
Method
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.
Line a baking tray with baking paper.
2 Put the peach pieces skin side down
in a saucepan with the honey, half the
thyme and 2?3 tablespoons of boiling
water. Cook over a low heat, with the
lid on, until slightly softened, about
5?6 min.
3 Cut the puff pastry sheet into
quarters and lay them out on the
prepared baking tray. On each of the
pastry squares gently score a line
about 1cm in from the edges using a
small sharp knife.
4 Lay two peach pieces skin side down
in the centre of one of the puff pastry
squares and drizzle over a little of the
syrup from the pan, then fold over the
edges of the pastry to the scored line to
form a raised border (this will stop the
honey from spreading during cooking).
Repeat with the remaining peach pieces
and puff pastry squares and top each
with a thyme sprig.
5 Transfer to the oven and bake for
30 min, or until the pastry is golden
brown. Serve warm with a dollop of
vanilla ice cream or softly whipped
cream.
Strawberry
frangipane tart
Serves 4
Ingredients
80g unsalted butter, at room
temperature
80g demerara sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 free-range egg
100g ground almonds
1 tbsp cornflour
8 strawberries, hulled and halved
(or replace with figs or stoned cherries)
Vanilla ice cream, to serve
Method
1 Preheat the oven to 180/gas 4.
Grease a 16cm round ovenproof dish
with a little butter.
2 Using an electric mixer, beat the
butter and sugar together until light
and fluffy. Add the vanilla and egg and
whisk until combined. Stir in the ground
almonds and cornflour to form a batter.
3 Pour the batter into the dish and
arrange the strawberries on top in
concentric circles. Bake for 40 min or
until golden brown on top and a skewer
inserted into the centre comes out
clean. (If the top browns too quickly
cover it with foil while cooking.)
4 Leave to cool slightly, then serve
warm with vanilla ice cream.
eat!
How to
cook
Catalan by
Jos� Pizarro
Magazine
Method
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and
insert a baking tray to heat up.
2 Add the butter and flour to a food
processor and pulse together until the
mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs,
then pour over the sour cream and
pulse again to form a soft dough.
3 Transfer the dough to the centre of a
30cm square of baking paper and shape
it into a rough circle, then wrap it tightly
and transfer to the fridge for 15 min.
4 Combine the fruit in a bowl. Add the
sugar and gently mix. Set aside.
5 Roll out the dough into a rough circle
about 5mm thick. Remove the top sheet
of baking paper and arrange the fruit in
the centre of the pastry circle, leaving a
4-5cm border round the outside.
6 Fold the sides of the pastry over to
enclose the fruit, repairing any breaks,
then transfer the crostata, still on the
baking paper, to the hot tray.
7 Brush the pastry with the beaten egg
yolk and bake for 60 min or until the
pastry is golden and flaky and the fruit
is warmed through.
8 Leave to cool slightly, then cut into
slices and serve with ice cream or cream.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
14
THE DOURO, OPORTO AND SALAMANCA
RIVER CRUISE
There was a time when the Douro was a
wild, precarious river, making navigation
a daunting task for those trying to keep
control of traditional flat bottomed boats.
Often they foundered ? losing the Port
wine they were transporting downriver to
the cellars of impatient wine merchants.
EIGHT DAYS
FROM
�299
PER PERSON
How different the Douro river is today,
tamed by a series of locks that will make
your river cruise holiday such a calm,
serene experience.
OPORTO
Wine is never far away from the Douro
river, and there are plenty of opportunities
to try out the authentic local favourites
during your cruise. You?ll be spoilt for
choice ? whether it?s the sparkling
Raposeira of historic Lamego, the familiar
Ros� of Mateus Palace, or the Port wine
(still trodden by foot) that?s so completely
entwined with the history of Oporto.
For 70 miles of the Douro?s 557-mile
length, the river forms part of the national
border between Spain and Portugal.
Its narrow canyons made it a historical
barrier for invasions, and an enduring
cultural and linguistic divide. On your
Douro river cruise you?ll see the very best
that both sides of this fascinating river
have to offer.
Selected departures from April to
November, 2018.
HIGHLIGHTS AND INCLUSIONS:
? Guided tour of Oporto with visit
to Port Wine cellars
? Scenic cruising through the
picturesque Douro Valley with
its dramatic cliffs and vineyards
? Enjoy a full day excursion to
Salamanca with guided tour and
Flamenco show
? Tour of the medieval village of
Castelo Rodrigo
MATEUS PALACE
? Traditional music recital with
dance display
? Guided tour of Mateus Palace
and gardens
? Experience dinner at a typical
Portuguese quinta
OPORTO
? Visit to the picturesque town
of Lamego and its Sanctuary of
Our Ladies of Remedy church
? Lunch at Alpendurada
Monastery overlooking the river
ITINERARY
LISBON
? All meals on board from
dinner on your day of arrival
until breakfast on your day of
departure, including welcome
cocktails and dinner, plus the
Captain?s Dinner
Fly to Lisbon or Oporto, and transfer to
the ship moored in Oporto.
DAY TWO ? LAMEGO
After a first morning?s scenic cruising,
this afternoon we take the short drive
to the historic town of Lamego where
you can visit the Sanctuary of our Lady
of Remedies church. We then visit a
typical Portuguese quinta to learn how
port is produced.
? Return flights from a selection
of regional airports
? Seven nights? on board in your
choice of luxury cabin or suite,
all with river views
? Services of a Riviera Travel
cruise director
DAY ONE ? ARRIVAL IN OPORTO
SALAMANCA
DAY FOUR ? SALAMANCA
0330 160 5120
We cruise to Peso da R間ua where
there is time at leisure this afternoon.
This evening we enjoy dinner at Quinta
da Pacheca, an 18th-century manor
house overlooking the River Douro.
DAY SIX ? MATEUS PALACE GARDENS
This morning, we visit the famous
Mateus Palace gardens. After dinner
tonight, we enjoy a wonderful
performance of traditional Portuguese
folk music.
DAY THREE ? CASTELO RODRIGO
Relax on board whilst the stunning
views of this spectacular region drift by.
This afternoon visit Castelo Rodrigo, a
12thcentury walled hilltop village with
its stupendous panoramic views.
COIMBRA
DAY FIVE ? PESO DA REGUA
Today we drive to Salamanca, for a
guided tour of this beautiful city. Over
lunch, we experience a traditional
flamenco show.
DAY SEVEN ? OPORTO
We firstly enjoy a tour and tasting at
one of the best-known port wine cellars.
Later we have a guided tour of the city
with free time to further explore.
DAY EIGHT ? RETURN FLIGHT
Transfer to the airport for your flight
home.
quoting KL429
thetimes.co.uk/rivercruise
Prices are per person, based on two sharing a twin/double room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. Additional entrance costs may apply. All holidays are subject to availability. Images used in conjunction with Riviera
Travel. Operated by and subject to the booking conditions of Riviera Tours Ltd, ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430, IATA 9127440, a company independent of Times Newspapers Limited. Riviera Travel, New Manor, 328 Wetmore Road, Burton-on-Trent. DE14 1SP.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Food + Drink 15
Off-licences revamp their image
GETTY IMAGES
This week?s best buys
Jane MacQuitty
Offlicence
star
buys
W
ine drinkers with
long memories
will recall the
heyday of
off-licences in
the Seventies
and Eighties
when every high street had at least
one branch, sometimes two, of popular
chains such as Peter Dominic,
Victoria Wine, Davisons and Thresher.
Poor-quality stock and the march of the
all-conquering supermarkets put paid
to most of them, but those that remain
have at last upped their game.
As the wine ranges in the big four
supermarkets have shrunk in an effort to
compete with Aldi and Lidl, the quirky
wine ranges in the better off-licences
are starting to look very appealing.
Once dusty, overheated jungles, the
off-licences I recently visited were
clean, tidy and easy to navigate. Factor
in long trading hours ? many are
open until 10pm ? free local delivery
and glass hire, and shopping here
starts to make sense.
It?s true that you will pay more for
your wine than in a supermarket, but
frankly if, like me, you are fed up with
bored supermarket wine advisers
pouring tiny plastic cups of cheap wine
that they know nothing about, it?s
a price worth paying for the mostly
polite and knowledgeable sales staff
you?ll find at off-licences.
Unusual, imaginative wines from
far-flung places need a hand-sell and
most of the managers I spoke to knew
what was on their shelves because they
2015 Vouvray, Marc
Br閐if, Loire, France,
12.5 per cent
Wine Rack, �.49
Marc Br閐if?s vouvrays
are the bee?s knees, so
grab this gorgeous,
ripe, tangy, baked
Cox?s Orange
Pippin star.
had written or compiled their engaging
tasting notes. Oddbins is wizard at this,
so make certain that you snap up
Germany?s answer to red burgundy on
its shelves, the terrific, bold, elegant,
gamey 2012 Weingut Gaul
Sp鋞burgunder from the Pfalz, (�.50),
or the thrilling, racy, floral, sparkling
vinho verde 2016 Quinta de Soalheiro
Alvarinho Espumante Bruto (�).
Good buys at the francophile Nicolas
include half-bottles and magnums, but
I lost my heart to a bottle of Joseph
Drouhin?s smouldering, floral, white
burgundy 2015 Saint-Romain (�.40),
handsomely gift-wrapped free.
I?m not keen on the 650-strong
Bargain Booze chain, but the try-beforeyou-buy daily tastings that its 30 Wine
Rack sister stores run are a real bonus.
Try its zingy, petrolly, medium dry 2015
Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling,
from Washington state for �.99.
2015 Rouge, Anette
Closheim, Nahe,
Germany, 12.5 per cent
Oddbins, �.75
This delightful red
(sp鋞burgunder, cabernet
sauvignon, dornfelder)
bursts with glorious,
zesty, pickled
plum fruit.
2012 Ch鈚eau Patache
d?Aux, Bordeaux,
France, 13 per cent
Nicolas, �.20
Hang on until Wednesday
and nab this tasty cru
bourgeois M閐oc claret,
crammed with lively,
savoury, cedary fruit, for
just �.40.
2013 De Bortoli
Botrytis Semillon,
Australia, 10.5 per cent
Asda, �50 (down
from �98)
Slim pickings at Asda,
but this fine, caramelised
lychee and papayastashed sticky oozes
winter pud-friendly charm.
2016 Glenelly Glass
Collection Unoaked
Chardonnay, South
Africa, 13.5 per cent
Booths, � (down
from �)
Lap up this ripe, nutty,
yet unoaked, honeydew
melon and yellow apple
Stellenbosch gem.
Wines
of the
week
Wine in supermarkets
costs less, but staff
in off-licences are
more knowledgeable
2015 Muriel Rioja,
Spain, 13 per cent
Co-op, �49 (down
from �49)
Youthful, yet delicious,
vibrant, contemporary
rioja, with soft tannins
and masses of vanilla
and sandalwood spice.
A cut-price steal.
EVENT
The Florida Project: preview screenings
A n e xc l u s i ve o p p o r t u n i t y fo r s u b s c r i b e r s
The Florida Project (Cert TBC) follows the summer adventures of two six-year-old girls as they run amok
while living at a motel and getting under the feet of the tough-but-tender manager, played by Willem Dafoe.
It will be in cinemas Friday, November 10 but subscribers can see it first and free on Tuesday, October 24.
Book tickets today at mytimesplus.co.uk
Image credit: � 2017 Florida Project 2016, LLC. This Times+ event is open to UK subscribers only. For full terms and conditions, visit mytimesplus.co.uk
the times Saturday October 14 2017
16
the times Saturday October 14 2017
17
the times Saturday October 14 2017
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the times Saturday October 14 2017
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the times Saturday October 14 2017
20
Outside
It?s time to
buy your
tulip bulbs
Plant them in
pots and borders
for a fabulous
display next spring,
writes Joe Swift
I
visited the Dutch tulips fields a few
years ago in spring, and the memory
is etched in my mind forever. It was
a colourfest: neat stripes of pillarbox reds, lipstick pinks, canary
yellows, sexy purples and many more
forming the surreal rainbow landscape. In the Netherlands they take their
bulbs seriously, growing more than three
billion tulips a year for the world market.
Of course, there are more subtle tulip flowers in shades of green and white, but for
most of us tulips are grown for their unmissable shots of cheery spring colours, a
welcome relief after a long grey winter.
As well as the colour choice, there?s the
varied range of flower forms, such as the
frilly edged ?parrot?, elegantly pointed
?lily?, classic rounded ?triumph? and shorter-stemmed kaufmanniana tulips, which
are ideal for small pots. It?s hard to go wrong
and of course you can change it around
year on year, but buying tulips is about as
close as horticulture gets to visiting a sweet
shop. Planting them is exciting too: burying
nuggets of treasure in the garden that are
forgotten, before the excitement and sense
of expectation picks up and they finally set
the garden alight in spring.
Tulips are versatile plants that can be
grown in pots and containers and as part of
a more formal garden scheme where
summer bedding will follow on. If planted
informally in the ground, they succeed
best when planted in bold clumps of at
least ten or more or in flowing drifts in
bigger areas for a more natural effect ? in
which case you may want to go for more
muted forms and colours.
When to plant
Tulips are best left later than other spring
bulbs, ideally until the temperatures
plummet in November, because it will help
them to avoid fungal diseases such as tulip
fire (which can be recognised by distorted
or twisted leaves with brown spots on the
Joe?s favourite tulips
Tulipa ?Ballade?
Tulipa ?Verona?
This is a reliably perennial tulip flowering year on
year if left in the ground. Classic lily-form bloom in
mauve pink with crisp white edges. Plant deeply to
about 15cm. Height 50cm.
A soft creamy yellow and a delicate fragrance. An
early rounded double variety flowering from early
to late April. Height 35cm.
Tulipa kaufmanniana ?Showwinner?
Tulipa acuminata
The shorter kaufmanniana hybrids flower early
(March to April), so will start the season off and can
be followed on by later varieties. ?Showwinner? has
scarlet flowers with yellow stamen. Height 20cm.
A delicate species tulip formed solely by mother nature
without intervention. Narrow yellow petals with flamed
red tips. A little trickier to grow, so plant in short grass
or grow in a well-drained pot. Height 50cm.
Tulipa ?Prinses Irene?
Tulipa ?Spring Green?
A classic. Pale orange with a purple flame. Short and
stocky, so works well in containers. Height 30cm.
May-flowering tulip. Subtle and extremely popular.
Ivory white and green feather petals. Reliable, very
pretty and combines well with stronger colours as
well as pastels. Height 50cm.
leaves when they come up). There?s a decent window for planting because they can
be put in the ground right into December if
the soil isn?t frozen. Having said that, once
you buy them it is best not to leave them
hanging around. If you do, make sure it is a
cool and dry spot. Plant the bulbs within a
couple of weeks of buying them, avoiding
any that are damaged, soft or shrivelled.
How to plant
Dig a hole (or use a bulb planter) to triple
the depth of the bulb, so that once planted,
the bottom of the bulb ends up with double
the amount of soil on top. On heavy soils
add a little grit to the bottom of the hole to
stop them sitting directly on wet soil
through winter and rotting off.
Tulips make excellent pot displays,
giving you a shot of colour precisely where
you want it. As the energy is pre-stored in
the bulb, they can work well in shadier
spots too for a one-off season; discard
them afterwards because they won?t flower so well the next year (they won?t have
built up enough energy in the bulb because
of a lack of light). Use three parts multipurpose compost to one part grit. Pack
them in far more densely than you would
in the ground, with spacing of about one
bulb width between each bulb.
When to lift them
Serious gardeners either lift and discard
bulbs, buying new ones each year, or they
lift the bulbs (after the leaves have died
back), dry them and store them somewhere dark and dry for planting the next
autumn. Even then these are perhaps best
used out of the way, rather than in a
prominent spot, in case they don?t perform
as well. Some, especially dwarf tulips often
re-flower without lifting and a few
cultivars may re-flower too if left in
and they are in a well-drained soil and
sunny spot where their bulbs get baked
by the sun.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
21
Page
23
?The trackway led up on to dark
sandstone cliffs, where the
wind whipped the short turf?
Christopher Somerville?s good walk
GAP PHOTOS; ALAMY
How to keep pot plants
blooming until winter
It can be as simple
as moving a
container to a
sheltered spot, but
act now, writes
Stephen Anderton
Tulipa ?Flaming Parrot?
The parrot and peony tulip forms are a little OTT for
some, but are fun, frilly and outrageous. Flaming parrot
starts yellow with a red flame and turns ruffled and
pure white, keeping its red markings. Height 45cm.
Tulipa ?Ballerina?
Fabulous accent tulip to really lift a dull spot. Lily
flowered with tangerine orange flowers and good
scent. Height 55cm.
Tulipa ?Mascara?
Deep, silky, chocolate-red petals. Can be combined
nicely with bright oranges or cool pinks. Height
45cm-50cm.
Q I have been given
a clump of lily of
the valley and I am
wondering where to
put it. Would it survive
under an apple tree?
V Lapage
A Light, dappled shade
is OK for lily of the valley
(Convallaria majalis),
but not total gloom. And
poor, rooty soil is fine
too, once the plant is
established. Lily of the
valley takes a few years
to settle in and stays put
during that time. But
once it has established
its power base it spreads
relentlessly, sending out
its running roots into
and through other plants,
possibly overwhelming
small, delicate
neighbours. A roughish
spot is best for it, not too
dry, where it can romp
about unchallenged.
If you plant it beside
important neighbours
you will be forever
trying to dig it back.
Send your questions
to stephen.anderton@
the times.co.uk
I
t?s amazing how well you can keep
container plants flowering and
performing way into the autumn
if you look after them. That
sometimes means changing their
position and watering regime,
but it?s certainly worth it.
There?s no need to move permanent,
hardy container plants such as
hydrangeas, box, maples and hostas.
They will take the first frosts on the nose
? you can move them to a kinder
corner when winter really bites. There
are some plants, however, that will go on
flowering if you move them now.
Pelargoniums come top of the list,
not just the good old zonal and trailing
bedding geraniums, but many of the
scented-leaved geraniums and species
such as P. ionidiflorum.
You have probably had them in the
open in 360 degrees of sunlight. Now, as
days shorten and sunlight weakens, and
as cooler temperatures reduce their need
for water, the compost will start to sit
soggy around their roots, which is the
last thing that sun-basking heat lovers
want. They will sulk. Leaves will yellow
and flowering will grind to a halt.
The first and easiest thing to do is to
move them to the foot of a sunny wall or
fence, or into that alley down the side
of the house. They won?t be entirely out
of the rain, but the rain shadow provided
by the wall will massively reduce how
much water they get. You may need to
water them occasionally, however,
especially if it?s windy.
You might also have to prune a bit off
the back of the plants to get the pots
close to the wall, but it?s worth it. You?d
be pruning them in the spring anyway.
A drier rootball has other benefits.
It means growth is slower and less soft,
so that the plants are better able to
withstand those first signs of frost and
remain in flower for a few more days or
weeks. There is always some residual
warmth against a wall, which will help
to keep off light frost, and there will
also be shelter from strong winds, which
means you can throw a fleece over
the plants without worrying about
whether it will blow away.
It?s all a matter of damage limitation,
because I can?t pretend the frosts won?t
get them in the end. Meanwhile, you
can prolong their season for as long as
possible, which, in our unpredictable
climate, could mean almost to
Question
time
Pelargoniums need protection from rain and frost as winter sets in
Sun-basking
plants will
sulk if their
compost
gets soggy
Christmas. Learn from your dahlias:
when the leaves show the first shrivelling
and transparency, you know there is
slight frost about. Dahlias only truly
blacken after 2-3 degrees of frost.
Many other late-flowering container
plants will benefit from a move to
drier shelter: salvias, bedding dahlias,
diascias . . . fuchsias also will be perfectly
happy against a shady wall. And the
stems of pineapple lilies (eucomis) will
soldier on for another week or two if
their compost is not sodden, even if their
leaves have started to collapse.
You may have had succulents outside
for the summer ? aeoniums, blue
senecios and aloes ? and these really
need to move to dry shelter. The longer
they can stay outdoors the better,
absorbing as much UV light as an
English autumn can provide. It is also
worth turning succulents placed close
to a wall every week, to keep their
colour and vigour even.
As in summer, you will need to go
on deadheading to encourage them
to make buds. There?s no virtue in
feeding them, however, because you will
only encourage undesirable soft growth.
Better to let them quietly wind down
into the autumn, flowering for as long
as they can. Like the string players on
the Titanic. Giving their all.
Weeder?s
digest
If you have evergreens
to move (and this is the
perfect time), soak the
roots with a couple of
cans of water a day or
two in advance to
reduce the shock. Get
up as large a rootball as
you can and water again
after replanting.
House plants on
windowsills are getting
less light, so turn them
every couple of weeks to
ensure healthy, even
growth. Water less freely.
Stop watering tuberous
begonias in pots and
baskets and get them
under cover now. The
stems will shrivel and
fall of their own accord
(don?t pull them off).
Store them as they are,
and clean and repot the
tubers in spring. SA
the times Saturday October 14 2017
22 Outside
ALAMY
Find a spot for
feathery ferns
Evergreen ferns
will keep your
garden lush through
the winter months,
says Alice Bowe
slender triangles, without any frills or
flounces ? the plant is often compared
with a shuttlecock. It will display its
fabulous foliage best in rich but
well-drained soil, in full or partial shade.
Soft shield fern
Polystichum setiferum ?Herrenhausen?
This lacy, finely fingered fern is one of
my favourites. It is delicately cut and
refined, but surprisingly robust, a fully
hardy native variety that will thrive in
dry or moist shade. The fronds are dark
green and uncurl from beautiful rustcoloured coils. It will grow only 40cm
tall, but can easily spread 80-90cm.
Japanese lace fern
Polystichum polyblepharum
The bronze leaves of this tough fern are
some of the prettiest available and form
a neat, shuttlecock-inspired shape 80cm
tall and just a fraction wider. The mature
leaves are a glossy shade of mid-green
and display a burnished bronze
central midrib. Plant in humus-rich,
well-drained soil in partial to full shade.
A
s the days get shorter
and deciduous shrubs
and trees begin to
shed their leaves and
perennials retreat
underground, evergreen
ferns are an excellent
addition to any garden, with their
beautiful foliage that remains green and
shiny throughout winter. There is a huge
variety with a vast range of textures ?
from delicately crimped leaflets to thick,
strappy leaves and lacy, finely cut foliage.
Evergreen ferns can be grown almost
anywhere that has a good degree of
shade, in pots, rockeries and in the
ground. They carpet swathes of even
the darkest spots of soil and cover any
twiggy, unappealing bases of deciduous
shrubs in the depths of winter.
They are sturdy and tolerant of a wide
range of moisture levels, and they are
not invasive. However, they will often
find a home in the cracks and crevices
of a wall or a flight of steps, their
hiding places revealed only
once the summer growth
dies back.
I would start by
planting the robust,
fully hardy and
delightful hart?s
tongue alongside
contrasting
lacy shield fern
varieties. Once
you?ve got the
bug, have a play
with these other
varieties. They can
all be planted now.
Sword fern
Polystichum munitum
This can grow 1m tall and just a
little wider in spread, although it takes
a while to get going. The fronds reach
90cm each. The leathery leaflets are
pinnately arranged and made up of
Hard fern
Blechnum spicant
Despite producing leathery leaves, the
hard fern is remarkably elegant all year
round. It produces deep green, heavily
indented leaves that are more akin to a
comb than a feather, and grows in a
wonderfully balanced, but not too
floppy mound, 50cm in height and
spread. Plant in partial shade or make
the most of its ability to thrive in even
the deepest shade where little else will
look as good.
Alpine water fern
Blechnum penna-marina
This smaller form grows only 20cm tall,
but can slowly colonise an area about
2m in spread. Easy to grow in any
moist, but well-drained soil, it makes a
fantastic dense ground cover.
Holly fern
Cyrtomium fortunei
The leaflets of this unusual fern are light
green and precisely pointed, hence
the common name ?holly
fern?. Darker midribs and
black stems add to the
tropical effect. The
semi-evergreen
foliage grows
60cm tall and
spreads about
40cm. It will
remain on the
plant for much
of the winter, but
should be cut off
in spring so you
can admire the
new fronds as they
uncurl. Plant in
humus-rich soil, in
partial or full shade where
it will not dry out.
Common polypody
Polypodium vulgare
This common mid-green fern will grow
Above: hart?s tongue
fern. Left: the frond of
a giant chain fern
Ferns will often
find a home
in the cracks
and crevices
of a wall or a
flight of steps
in any soil ? or even in the cracks in a
wall ? as long as it gets a bit of shade
during the day. Once established, it will
thrive in dry and moist conditions. The
neat green leaves rise 30cm before
drooping elegantly downwards, but can
spread 80cm wide.
Hart?s tongue fern
Asplenium scolopendrium
The solid, strappy green leaves of this
shiny evergreen make a welcome
textural contrast to the more finely
cut varieties. Each broad leaf has an
undulating texture and a gently wavy
edge as it uncurls from a central
rosette and arches up and outwards.
This fully hardy variety likes a position
in full or deep shade, but it will happily
tolerate either wet or dry sites once
it is well established. A mature fern
will grow about 50cm in height
and spread.
Hart?s tongue fern
Asplenium scolopendrium
Cristatum group
This more unusual form of the hart?s
tongue has crimped and cut fronds that
look like multiple ?fingers? at the tips.
The common term ?parsley spleenwort?
is an apt description of the visual effect
produced by these splayed, feathery
ends. This variety is less tolerant of
dry conditions.
Giant chain fern
Woodwardia fimbriata
This gigantic fern needs reliable levels
of moisture. Growing to 1.5m with a
spread of 1m, you can be sure that it
will make an impact in a woodland
glade or by the side of a shady pond. It
is only borderline hardy, so it may be
wise to choose a shady, sheltered spot
and to apply a protective mulch round
the base as soon as winter draws in.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Outside 23
A good walk Brough of
Birsay, Orkney Mainland
ALAMY
T
he Earl?s Palace frowns out
over the Bay of Birsay,
strong, stark and harsh,
a fortress reflecting
everything that?s known
about the man who
created it.
Robert Stewart, the Earl of Orkney
and illegitimate son of King James V of
Scotland, was a high-handed and brutal
ruler of the Orkney isles. The great
stronghold he built with forced labour
in the 1570s stands in ruin at the
outermost tip of Orkney Mainland, still
massively impressive, with its jagged
gables and tall dark chimney stacks.
Looking down from the green
trackway behind the Earl?s Palace at the
jumble of buildings and the crashing sea
beyond, I pictured the wretched sprigs
of the Stewart family tree. Nasty Earl
Robert died in his bed, but his even
nastier son Patrick ? ?Black Patie? by
nickname ? and rather pathetic
grandson Robert came to bad ends at
the hands of the king?s executioner.
Those were wild times, and there were
few places wilder than the Orkney
archipelago, remote in its northern seas.
The trackway led up on to dark
sandstone cliffs, where the wind whipped
the short turf and whirled the fulmars
past in stiff-winged flight. I put my head
down and trudged north, with the Earl?s
Palace looming inland.
Past the ruin of Black Patie and Earl
Robert?s citadel runs a newly opened
pilgrimage route, St Magnus Way,
a 55-mile trek that celebrates Orkney?s
much-loved local saint and miracle
worker. It was in Birsay?s ancient kirk
that Magnus Erlendsson?s bones
resided after his martyrdom 900 years
ago. They were soon translated to their
final resting place in Kirkwall?s St
Magnus Cathedral, terminus of the
new pilgrim path.
At the outer end of the road from
Birsay lies the zigzag causeway to the
tidal island of the Brough of Birsay.
The sea was just receding from the
isthmus as I crossed it, the ebbing
water forming tiny sucking maelstroms
beside the causeway.
The landward slope of the brough
presents a fabulous jumble of stone
walls, half-formed windows and house
foundations. Pictish settlers were
succeeded by Norse ones between
AD600 and AD1200, each wave of
islanders building on top of its
predecessors? dwellings.
I climbed the back of the island to the
little castellated lighthouse and looked
out from the puffin-burrowed summit.
Tall cliffs fell sheer into the sea on all
sides and other islands floated on the
horizon in the evening light, as grey
and distant as breaching whales.
Start Earl?s Palace car park,
Birsay KW17 2LX (HY248277)
Getting there Bus 7 (Kirkwall-Birsay).
Road: from Kirkwall, A965 through
Finstown, in 1 mile, right on A986
through Dounby; from Twatt, A967,
A966 to Birsay.
Walk 4� miles; easy; OS Explorer 463.
From car park, left up road. Cross Burn
Feather
report
The wild
clamour of
the wary
redshank
T
250 metres
Remains of Celtic monastery,
Viking settlement, Pictish
houses, and church
BROUGH
OF BIRSAY
P
Causeway
(open 2 hours
each side of
low tide)
Birsay Bay
Earl?s
Palace
Burn
of
Boardhouse
A966
P
start
Birsay
Bay
Tearoom
Point of
Snusan
Mount
Misery
B9056
Cemetery
Inverness
O R K N E Y
of Boardhouse; follow road past Birsay
Bay Tearoom, then grass track to
cemetery and road (248268). Right; in
300m, at left bend, right (245268).
Follow St Magnus Way (waymark) north
down track to rejoin road (248275). Left,
following road to causeway (242284).
Cross to Brough of Birsay; walk round
island; return across causeway.
Conditions Causeway is open for
2 hours either side of low tide. Check
times at magicseaweed.com
Lunch Birsay Bay Tearooms
(01856 721399; birsaybaytearoom.co.uk)
Accommodation Ferry Inn, Stromness
KW16 3AD (01856 850280, ferryinn.com)
More information visitorkney.com;
stmagnusway.com
Islands floated
on the horizon,
as grey and
distant
as whales
Looking
over to the
Brough
of Birsay
from
Orkney
he noisiest of the waders
now gathering along our
shores is the redshank. It
is larger than the small
waders, such as dunlins;
greyish-brown with a red
base to its beak and bright
red legs from which it gets its name.
It is noisy because it is wary. When a
flock of redshanks are feeding at the
water?s edge, any alarm will send them
rocketing up instantly into the air, and
they will streak off over the water making
a wild clamour of loud, ringing ?tu-tu-tu??
notes. They are unmistakable in the air as
they go, with a large, oval white rump and
a broad white trailing edge to their wings.
Arriving back on the shore again, they
have a delightful way of holding their
wings high in the air for a moment, like
a gathering of Renaissance angels, before
folding them. Yet when they are back
searching for shrimps and little crabs,
they still look nervous. They hardly
ever stop bobbing their rear end up and
down in an agitated way.
In summer they are a darker brown
and nest inland, on salt and freshwater
marshes and even on moorland. Their
anxious, noisy ways have earned them
the name ?the warden of the marshes?,
and other birds look around cautiously
when the redshanks go up, crying out.
On the shore at present there is also
another species of redshank. These are
spotted redshanks that have come down
from Iceland. In summer they are
handsome birds, glossy black with small
white spots. Unfortunately, by the time
they arrive here they are rarely to be
seen in this plumage. By now they
resemble the common redshanks in
colour, but have a longer beak and longer
legs. Their demeanour helps to give them
away. Those that I have seen have mostly
been rather brooding, solitary birds, less
easily worried than their relatives.
These lone birds also fly off low over
the water, making a quite different call ?
a single blunt-sounding ?tchew-it?. What
definitively distinguishes them is that
they lack the common redshank?s white
rear edge to their wings.
Derwent May
PETER BROWN
24 Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel
Page
32
?Truly epic mountains,
Gandalf-hat church steeples
and a chic five-star hotel?
Anna Murphy falls for the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad
CHRISTOF SONDEREGGER
Ski
special
50 best ski holidays to book now
From chic hotels to great budget resorts,
Ben Clatworthy and Tom Chesshyre
pick the top places to stay on the slopes
Coolest new hotels
1 Four Seasons,
Meg鑦e, France
The winter?s biggest hotel opening in
the French Alps, this slope-side Four
Seasons will feature Le 1920, the
two-starred Michelin restaurant run by
Julien Gatillon that is relocating from
another site in Meg鑦e. There is also a
spa with an indoor-outdoor pool, a stylish
cocktail bar and snazzy cigar room. It?s a
great one for oenophiles too: the wine
cellar is to be stocked with more than
10,000 bottles. The 55 rooms are five-star
standard and the hotel is offering 20 per
cent off to those who book before
November 30. It opens on December 15.
Details A room-only double room costs
from �0, including the 20 per cent
discount (fourseasons.com)
2 Hyatt Centric,
La Rosi鑢e, France
Expect funky, contemporary design at
this hip new 71-room hotel, due to
open in December in the small,
quiet resort of La Rosi鑢e, which
is linked with La Thuile in Italy.
Hyatt?s Centric brand has a
fresh modern look, offering a
?cosmopolitan vibe? in the
otherwise traditional-looking
village, where most skiers stay
in chalets. There?s also a spa
with a pool, steam room, sauna
and treatment rooms. La Rosi鑢e is
south-facing and usually enjoys
good snow; the village is at 1,850m.
Details Doubles cost from ?293 (�7),
half-board (larosierehotel.com)
1
3 Grand Massif Samo雗s,
Morillon, France
This is a giant new Club Med resort in
Samo雗s, opening in December,
with marvellous valley views.
The 400-plus rooms are bright
and breezy. It?s very family
friendly, with cr鑓hes and
kids? clubs. There?s also an
indoor-outdoor pool. Samo雗s
is within the Grand Massif
ski area, with 265km (165 miles)
of slopes to explore.
Details A week?s all-inclusive
costs from �828pp, including
Gatwick, Glasgow or Manchester
flights, six-day lift passes, five-day
group ski lessons and transfers
(clubmed.co.uk) W
the times Saturday October 14 2017
26 Travel
7
4 Terminal Neige,
Chamonix, France
After the successful launch of
the Terminal Neige Totem in Flaine,
this sister hotel is in the former
Montenvers refuge, which dates from
1880. It?s part of the Maisons & H魌els
Sibuet group, which has established a
strong following among fans of design
hotels. The sleek, arty interiors of this
19-bedroom property have been
designed by Jocelyne Sibuet. There will
be a choice of dorms or suites, as well
as a restaurant serving fondues. The
hotel opens in December.
Details Half-board doubles cost
from ?150 (�3), while half-board
dorm stays are from ?80 (�)
(refuge.terminal-neige.com)
5 Aman Le M閘閦in,
Courchevel 1850, France
Aman Le M閘閦in isn?t new ? it is
celebrating its 25th anniversary this
winter ? but it?s marking the
occasion by opening a huge spa and a
new restaurant called Nama, serving
dishes overseen by the Japanese
master chef Keiji Matoba. The spa, to be
ready by December 15, is over two floors,
with a hammam, sauna, hot tubs, 14m
pool and treatment rooms offering
hot-stone massages.
Details Doubles cost from ?1,100
half-board, hot-tub rooms cost from
?2,600 half-board (aman.com)
6 Le K2 Djola,
Courchevel 1850, France
Le K2 Djola is another swish December
opening in France, not far from the
Aman. This is to be a laid-back boutique
hotel with 24 stylish rooms. Expect
candlelit lounges with open fires and
low-slung sofas. After a day on the
slopes relax in the steam room, then
enjoy a sundowner overlooking the
valley or a film in the library.
Details B&B doubles cost from ?374
(lek2djola.com)
7 Valsana Hotel,
Arosa, Switzerland
The Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa
now has a stylish sister hotel: the Valsana,
designed by the Swiss architect Carlo
Rampazzi. Reclaimed wood and retro
furniture feature in the 40 down-to-earth
but sumptuous rooms. There will also be
two indoor tennis courts. The hotel,
opening on December 7, is by the main
cable car at 1,800m.
Details Doubles cost from SwFr380
(�0), including breakfast
(valsana.ch/en)
8 Hard Rock Hotel,
Davos, Switzerland
Guests will be able to order Fender
guitars for in-room jams at this
rock?n?roll-themed hotel opening in
December in Davos, the host town of
the World Economic Forum ? and also
home to one of Switzerland?s biggest ski
areas. Rock memorabilia will adorn the
walls throughout the 111-room property,
which was formerly Spenglers Hotel.
There will also be a rooftop cocktail bar.
Details B&B doubles cost SwFr350
(www.hardrockhotels.com)
23
Chalet Shar Pei in Val d?Is鑢e
This season?s hotspots
9 Andermatt on the up
There has been a steady trickle of
improvements in Andermatt since
2009, when Samih Sawiris, the
Egyptian-Montenegrin
businessman, bought the resort.
Since then six new lifts have
been built, three of them
popping up for this winter, plus
there?s a host of new runs and
increased snowmaking too.
Details A week?s B&B at Chedi
Andermatt costs from �750pp,
including flights and trains
(skisolutions.com)
10 New lift in Klosters
This year the link between Klosters
and Davos is being upgraded from
Jasna, Slovakia
an unwieldy T-bar to a high-speed
six-seater chairlift with racing-car
style seats, halving the journey time
to five minutes. Be among the first to
ski the new link with the Klosters
specialists PT Ski.
Details Three nights? half-board
at the Silvretta Parkhotel costs
from �5pp, including
transfers and ski guides (020
7736 5557, ptski.com). Flights
are extra
11 Powder in Japan
20
This season it?s all about
little-known Furano. It?s on Japan?s
northernmost island, Hokkaido,
northeast of Sapporo, which on average
receives 9m of snow each winter.
Ski Safari has a Powder Camp trip
that includes five days? tuition
with the Warren Smith Ski Academy,
and Flexiski (flexiski.com) has also
added the resort.
Details A nine-night trip with Ski Safari,
including the Warren Smith course,
costs from �079pp, B&B, including
flights and transfers (skisafari.com)
12 Heavenly in California
With a vast expanse of terrain ? all
over 2,000m ? Heavenly is an
impressive ski area that extends over the
California-Nevada state line. This season
it is expected to be popular, with the
resort back in Crystal Ski?s brochure
after a hiatus. In town there are cool
bars and restaurants.
Details A week?s room-only stay at the
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino costs from
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 27
RICH ROBERTS; JENNA FOXTON; GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES; XANDRA M LINSIN
22
Snowbombing festival, Austria
tempting prices. Vemdalen has limited
skiing, but it?s good for beginners,
and the simple, smart Fallmoran
Apartments that Crystal is featuring are
a two-minute stroll from the ski school.
The apartments are simple but smart,
with fully equipped kitchens. For an
evening out it?s a short walk to
restaurants and bars.
Details A week?s self-catering costs
from �430 for a family of four,
including flights from Gatwick to
謘tersund and transfers, departing
on January 14 (020 8610 3123,
crystalski.co.uk)
rollercoaster. The ride reaches speeds of
42km/h (26mph) and descends 134m.
The price is ?26 for adults or ?22 for
children (skijuwel.com). Add to this a
new gondola to Auffach and Schatzberg,
and it?s an exciting season ahead. The
resort has great runs for intermediates
and a pretty village.
Details A week?s B&B costs from
�9pp, including flights in
January, staying at Haus Edelweiss
(igluski.com)
18 Toboggan in France
Snowbombing is the classic festival ?
the Glasto of the Alps. It?s back this
season (April 9-14) in Mayrhofen and,
although the line-up is under wraps,
it will be the biggest party in the
mountains if its past roster is anything
to go by. Our top tip: for apr鑣-ski
head to Butcher Hans Gasser
? tucked behind the Penkenbahn
gondola ? which has a DJ during
festival week, local Tyrolean speck
and plenty of beer.
Details Six nights? B&B at the Elisabeth
Hotel costs from �8pp, including a
festival ticket, departing on April 8
(0333 240 5815, snowbombing.com).
Flights are extra
Zoom down a 3km toboggan track with
a 450m vertical descent, travelling
through four tunnels with ?Monaco-style
turns and Le Mans straights?. The run,
which is called Luge XXL and will be
floodlit, zigzags down from the top of
the new speedy Courchevel 1650 lift.
Details A week?s half-board at Le
Portetta in Courchevel Moriond costs
from �766pp. Geneva flights with
Easyjet cost from � return, and
transfers cost from �3pp return
(portetta.com)
�254pp, including Heathrow flights and
transfers, departing on January 10 (020
8610 3123, crystalski.co.uk)
13 Olympics in
South Korea
The eyes of the world will turn to
Pyeongchang ? just south of the North
Korean border ? in February when it
hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Yongpyong is South Korea?s biggest
resort, with good skiing for recreational
skiers too.
Details An eight-night tour of
Yongpyong and Seoul costs from
�395pp, including flights and transfers
(01273 224 060, skisafari.com). Also see
gokorea.co.uk
14 Snowsure in the Alps
?Nightjet? sleeper trains by the Austrian
rail operator 諦B depart Cologne every
evening at 9.21pm, arriving in Innsbruck
at 9.14am the next day. The train also
stops earlier at Kufstein, W鰎gl and
Jenbach. To reach Cologne take
the Eurostar to Brussels, then an
inter-city train.
Details Return fares from
London start at �5. Ffestiniog
Travel (01766 772030,
ffestiniogtravel.com) can book
the whole journey from the UK.
Also see snowcarbon.co.uk
Best for families
16 Playpool in La
Plagne, France
Last winter was tricky in the Alps. In
many resorts the snow came in
mid-November and didn?t fall again
for more than 50 days. Yet one resort,
tucked away in the Austrian Vorarlberg,
has received the most abundant snowfall
in the Alps for three consecutive years.
Warth-Schr鯿ken had an impressive
9.25m (it?s long-term average is 10.6m).
Details A week?s half-board at the
Lechtaler Hof boutique hotel costs from
�445pp, including flights and transfers
(snow-wise.com)
The people behind the funky, good-value
RockyPop Hotel in Chamonix have
refurbished the Araucaria Hotel & Spa in
La Plagne in time for this winter, adding
a children?s play area with a popcorn
machine and a play pool next
to the main swimming pool. There?s also
a stylish cocktail bar and a full range of
spa treatments for parents.
Details A week?s half-board for a family
of four in January costs from �236
with Gatwick flights (01483 345681,
inghams.co.uk)
15 New ski train, Austria
17 New resort in Sweden
There is a new overnight train to the
Austrian Tyrol launching this winter. The
Crystal Ski has begun trips to the little
ski resort of Vemdalen with some
19 Austria for Easter
4
Splash about in the new Endless Sky
infinity pool ? the highest in the
Alps, at 2,050m ? while staying at
the stylish, family-friendly Hotel
Mooshaus this Easter holiday in
the resort of K黨tai. Esprit Ski
has week-long breaks departing
on March 24 and 31. It?s a
40-minute transfer from
Innsbruck and the slopes suit
all skiers.
Details A week?s half-board costs
from �420 for a family of four,
including Gatwick flights and
transfers (01483 791920,
espritski.com)
20 Half-term in Slovakia
Stay at a lovely hotel in the Low Tatras
mountains in Slovakia for a
great-value break during the February
half-term. The three-star Bj鰎nson Hotel
is in the small resort of Jasna, which has
decent runs for beginners and
intermediates. A beer in Slovakia costs
?1 and a two-course meal is ?8.
Details A week?s half-board at Bj鰎nson
Hotel costs from �9pp, including
flights, transfers, lift passes and
equipment (mountainparadise.co.uk)
21 Alpine rollercoaster
Austria?s charmingly traditional
resort of Alpbach, in the extensive
Ski Juwel area, has a new 1km-long
Best for partying
22 Festival in Austria
23 Apr鑣-ski in France
Expect high-energy rock concerts on
the slopes at this very French festival
in the huge Portes du Soleil ski area.
This season the charming village of Les
Gets is the host resort, with apr鑣-ski
concerts and events once the lifts
close. Or for season-long partying, Val
d?Is鑢e is the nightlife capital of the
French Alps.
Details Seven nights? half-board
at the H魌el Alpina costs from �7pp
(alpineelements.co.uk), including flights
and transfers. In Val d?Is鑢e a week?s
chalet board at the super-luxurious
Chalet Shar Pei, sleeping eight, costs
from �900pp (scottdunn.com)
24 Party in Whistler
Canada?s Whistler ranks highly when it
comes to partying. Most regulars flock
to the Garibaldi Lift Co Bar & Grill at
the foot of the slopes, which kicks off
at 4pm and has daily live music. Across
town, BrewHouse is another popular
choice, with a large selection of craft
beers and ales.
Details A week?s room at Whistler
Peak Lodge costs from �170pp,
including flights (0330 102 8004,
skiworld.co.uk)
More great ski holidays
the times Saturday October 14 2017
28 Travel
33
31
Engadin ski marathon
Alborz mountains in Iran
25 Solo skiing
There are a growing number of singles
ski holidays this winter. Friendship
Travel has added Chalet Refuge &
Lodge, a second ?Houseparty? chalet
holiday, to its programme in Serre
Chevalier in France, with six departure
dates during the season. Solos, the
singles travel specialist, has also
expanded, with a new holiday to
Folgarida in Italy. With 53km of slopes,
the resort is best suited to beginners and
intermediate skiers.
Details A week?s chalet board at Chalet
Refuge & Lodge costs from �075pp,
including flights, transfers and six ski
lessons (friendshiptravel.com). A week?s
half-board at Hotel Kapriol in Folgarida
costs from �9pp, with flights and
transfers (solosholidays.co.uk)
Best for food and drink
26 Giorgio Locatelli
in Alta Badia
It?s the ninth year of A Taste for Skiing
in the Italian Dolomites resort of Alta
Badia. The festival, running throughout
the season, comprises a series of events,
including the pairing of 13 mountain
huts with Italian Michelin-starred chefs,
who create dishes starting from ?15 for
a main course (with a matched glass of
wine). This year the line-up includes
Giorgio Locatelli and Nicola Laera.
Details A week?s half-board stay at
Sporthotel Teresa (Badia) costs from
�5pp, departing from Manchester or
Gatwick on January 6, including
transfers (neilson.co.uk)
27 New micro-brewery,
Verbier, Switzerland
29 Tapas in the
Pyrenees
The French Pyrenees are ? wrongly ?
off the radar of many British skiers. The
resorts are vast, the crowds non-existent,
the food great and there are spas
aplenty. In Saint Lary, with its 100km of
slopes, it is the food that stands out, with
its Spanish influences (the resort is a few
kilometres from the border). Coincide
a trip with January?s Black Pig festival,
which features pop-up stalls.
Details Four nights? B&B at the Mercure
Hotel in St Lary costs from �3pp, with
flights (skiweekends.com)
Best for experts
30 Refuge in Val Thorens
Ski off-piste from the top of France?s
Val Thorens, or ?skin? uphill, aided by
material that sticks to the bottom of your
skis, to the Lac du Lou mountain refuge,
which opens for overnight stays this
winter. Perched by the side of the
eponymous lake, the mountain hut
can sleep 31.
Details Prices are expected to be about
?40 a night (00 33 4 79 00 08 08,
valthorens.com)
Vie Montagne is the hottest new
restaurant in Verbier, with its own
micro-brewery producing
craft beers
31 Ski in Iran
(viemontagne.com).
The pistes in Iran used
Food is locally
to be sex-segregated,
sourced, including
with police on the
an array of hams
slopes monitoring
and cheeses, plus
activity. These
beef dishes
days things are
and salads.
more relaxed and
Flatbreads and
this season the
pizzas are
company
baked in the
Mountain Heaven
wood-fired oven
has trips taking
and there?s a
in Dizin, the
choice of
country?s largest
a formal dining room
26 Taste for Skiing festival resort 45 miles north
upstairs or a more
of Tehran, as well as
casual one on the lower
the smaller Shemshak
floor; three courses costs from
and Darbansar. You?ll need to be a
about �. For more information
strong skier.
on Verbier see verbier4vallees.ch/en
Details An eight-day tour in March costs
Details A week?s B&B at the
from �300pp, including most meals and
Hotel Montpelier, which has a pool
transfers (mountainheaven.co.uk). Flights
and sauna, costs from �135pp,
and lift passes are extra. For travel advice
including flights and transfers,
see fco.gov.uk
departing on January 13 (020 7471
7741, skisolutions.com)
28 Wine festival, Austria
The Wein am Berg food and wine
festival in S鰈den has a growing following;
next year?s event takes place from April
19-22. Top chefs and sommeliers are
invited to impart their expertise at the
chic, five-star Das Central hotel, as well as
on the slopes. The highlight is a wine
tasting at 3,000m, an altitude at which
?wines develop a special aroma?. Das
Central is one of Austria?s top hotels, with
luxurious suites and a great spa.
Details A week?s stay at Das Central
costs from ?2,870pp, arriving on April 15
(central-soelden.com); flights to
Innsbruck are from � covering
those dates (easyjet.com)
32 Ski touring, Spain
The popularity of ski touring ? skiing
uphill, aided by special ?skins?, to find
remote and untouched powder ?
shows no signs of letting up. Baqueira
Beret in the Spanish Pyrenees is a
great place to learn, with accessible
off-piste terrain and stunning
scenery. Assemble a group of four
friends to book this four-day course.
New this winter, it includes avalanche
awareness training.
Details Four nights? B&B at the Hotel
Himalaia costs from �025pp, based
on four travelling, including flights from
Gatwick to Toulouse, car hire, twin
rooms and the services of a guide
(01243 929121, summitandblue.com)
33 Swiss ski marathon
Take part in Switzerland?s biggest
cross-country race, which celebrates
its 50th anniversary next year. It takes
place in Engadin on March 11 and will
feature 13,000 competitors from more
than 60 countries, including Fran鏾ise
Stahel, 80, above, who has competed in
every race. Combine it with a week?s
skiing in nearby glitzy St Moritz, which
has a ski-pass offer. Stay for more than
one night in any St Moritz hotel and a
pass costs SwFr38 a day (usually SwFr79).
Details Race entry costs SwFr100
before December 31 (engadinskimarathon.ch). A week?s half-board at
the Hotel Hauser in St Moritz costs
from �040pp, including flights and
transfers (inghams.co.uk)
34 Early ski in Tignes
Brush up your technique before the
season on a Snoworks Autumn Ski
Course in the French resort of Tignes
that includes training for bumps,
all-mountain skiing, carving and race
technique on early snow.
Details A week?s course with five full
days? tuition costs �0, starting on
October 28. A week?s half-board at the
L?Aiguille Perc閑 costs from �0pp
(snoworks.co.uk). Flights cost extra
35 Learn from the
Eagle, Canada
Combine a week?s skiing at Kicking
Horse with a lesson in ski jumping at
the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary,
taught by the master himself, Eddie ?the
Eagle? Edwards. The trip is suitable for
anyone who can comfortably ski red
runs ? and has good nerves.
Details Seven nights? B&B, with two
hosted dinners, costs from �295pp,
with flights, transfers, a ski guide
and ski passes (0117 230 5135,
kickinghorsepowdertours.com)
Best for beginners
36 Blue runs, Italy
Thinking of making this the year you
learn to ski? Italy is a safe bet, with great
food, good atmosphere ? and it?s cheap.
Passo Tonale has long been a beginners?
favourite, with its sunny slopes by the
village for the first few wobbly turns, plus
lots of wide blue runs. The Presena ski
school (scuolasci-tonalepresena.it) is
popular with beginners and has
English-speaking instructors.
Details A week?s half-board costs
from �5pp, with flights and
transfers, departing on December 16
(020 8610 3123, crystalski.co.uk)
37 Learn to ski, Austria
Two ingredients make learning to ski
a damn sight less painful. The first is
beautifully manicured pistes, the second
is a swanky pad to retreat to once legs
start aching. Lech has both of these in
abundance. And there is a final benefit:
a great ski school (skischule-lech.com).
There are many good nursery runs.
Details A week?s half-board at the
Hotel Tannbergerhof costs from �9pp,
including flights and transfers, departing
on December 16 (crystalski.co.uk)
38 Budget lessons
in France
27
Vie Montagne, Verbier
Unless you are a great fan of 1960s
brutalist architecture, Flaine can only be
described as one thing: ugly. But it?s in
the mountains, with good views, and it?s
great for beginners. Action Outdoors,
the activity holiday specialist, is a good
option for beginners on a budget and
has holidays with almost everything
(including lessons) thrown in.
Details A week?s all-inclusive costs
from �2pp, including equipment, lift
passes and full-day lessons, departing
the times Saturday October 14 2017
ALAMY; YVES GARNEAU; LORENZ RICHARD
Travel 29
45 Italy for less
The Monterosa ski area covers the
resorts of Champoluc, Gressoney and
Alagna, all connected to the Aosta
Valley. The skiing is varied, with
slopes to suit beginners, intermediates
and experts. The region is renowned
for its excellent restaurants, although
nightlife is usually quiet. In January
prices are low.
Details A week?s half-board at Chalet
Hotel de Champoluc costs from �9pp
in January, including flights and
transfers (01483 791114, inghams.co.uk)
46 New year in the Alps
Ski Collection has 10 per cent off
new year ski deals to La Rosi鑢e, the
popular French resort ? although you
must book before October 31. The
company offers good-quality
self-catering with Eurotunnel crossings.
Details A week?s self-catering at Le
Lodge Hemera costs from �4pp with
Ski Collection (skicollection.co.uk)
47 Cut-price Canada
Panorama Mountain Resort in British
Columbia has great slopes for experts,
and conditions are usually excellent
(panoramaresort.com). Crystal Ski says
it is the best value for transatlantic trips,
particularly if you travel in late January
when prices are lowest.
Details A week?s self-catering with
flights at Pine Inn costs from �9pp,
including flights, departing on January
24 (crystalski.co.uk)
Best for snowboarding
48 Three parks in
Saalbach, Austria
on January 27 (020 3328 5443, actionoutdoors.co.uk). Flights cost extra
39 Chalet stay, Italy
Cervinia, on the other side of the
Matterhorn from glitzy Zermatt, is
another favourite with learners ? and
a great budget option. And there is good
reason, thanks to its combination of
record of sunshine, easy blues and a vast
beginners? area ? with a ?magic carpet?
and short chairlift ? that?s covered on a
special limited day pass.
Details A week?s chalet board at the
Xtra Chalet Dragon is from �7pp,
including flights and transfers
(01483 791114, inghams.co.uk)
40 Learn in Bulgaria
Pamporovo is a resort best suited to
beginners; intermediates will find
the runs limited. But anyone who is
considering taking up skiing, or perhaps
going on a second trip while still feeling
tentative about being on skis, can
pick up a great deal.
Details A week?s stay at the Castle
Apartments in Pamporovo costs from
�4pp, based on six sharing, with
flights (balkanholidays.co.uk)
Best on a budget
41 Dolomites in March
You don?t have to break the bank to
stay in a lovely traditional hotel in the
quiet village of Campitello in Val di Fassa.
Go in March, when conditions are usually
good, and the price can dip below �0pp
with flights and transfers included.
Details A week?s B&B stay at Hotel
Rododendro costs from �5pp, with
flights, departing on March 17
(crystalski.co.uk)
42 Film festival,
France
43 Andorra on the cheap
Save cash by trying a ski holiday this
winter in Andorra, where prices tend to
be lower than in the Alps. You can also
pick up great deals on duty-free. Soldeu
is in the heart of the extensive (210km)
Grandvalira ski area with plenty of
cheerful pizzerias and bars.
Details A week?s half-board
costs from �5pp on
January 7, with flights,
Les Arcs, France
transfers and free
ski-guiding
(neilson.co.uk)
42
Film buffs who enjoy
taking to the slopes
can time an
early-season ski
break to coincide
with the fabulous
Les Arcs
European Film
Festival, which
is being held
from December
16-23 (lesarcsfilmfest.com/en).
Prices are especially
reasonable with Erna Low
in December and the ski
conditions are usually reliable: most
slopes are above 2,000m, reaching as
high as 3,250m. More than 120 films will
be shown at this year?s festival and there
will also be DJ sets.
Details A week?s self-catering in a
Residence Le Village apartment sleeping
two in Arc 1950 costs from �5,
starting on December 16; flights and
airport transfers are extra
(ernalow.co.uk)
44 Chalet
in Austria
If you?re after a
bargain-basement
deal, Iglu Ski
makes a handy first
port of call. This
winter its cheapest
break is in Kitzb黨el in
Austria. At the time of
going to press, a week?s stay at
a simple but charming shared chalet
at the popular resort is less than
�0pp in mid-December. Kitzb黨el
has great runs for intermediates,
excellent ski lifts, a lovely medieval town
centre, and some of the best nightlife in
the Alps.
Details A week?s chalet board costs
from �5pp departing on December
16 from Manchester, with transfers
(igluski.com)
Prefer hoofing about the mountain on
one plank, as opposed to two sticks?
Saalbach-Hinterglemm ticks all the
boxes for snowboarders, with great
off-piste freeride terrain and
three impressive snowparks. The
Nightpark, near Hinterglemm village,
is the biggest, with huge jumps and
kickers ? plus it?s open until 9.30pm
most nights.
Details Seven nights? half-board at
Hotel Sport Berger costs from �020pp,
including flights (igluski.com)
49 Freestyle courses
in Switzerland
There?s an Olympic-length superpipe,
as well as some of Europe?s best
snowparks and great off-piste
freeride areas, in Laax. And for
8 to 17-year-olds starting out on the
jumps, there are courses at the Laax
Freestyle Academy, beginning in a
huge indoor freestyle centre, with
trampolines and soft foam landings,
before heading out to the snow.
Details A week?s course with
accommodation and full board costs
from SwFr1,150pp in February
(freestyleacademy.com)
50 Learn in Tignes
Just starting out? Proper snowboard
lessons are the best way to progress.
Action Outdoors, the activity holiday
specialist, has Tignes holidays in
France that include equipment hire
and lessons.
Details A week?s all-inclusive,
staying at the newly renovated
UCPA in Tignes, costs from �1pp,
including full-day lessons, equipment
and lift passes, departing on
December 23 or January 6 (020 3328
5443, action-outdoors.co.uk). Flights
cost extra
the times Saturday October 14 2017
30 Travel
The tiny principality
between France and
Spain is perfect for
intermediate skiers,
says Tom Chesshyre
ALAMY
Welcome to Andorra:
great slopes and no queues
I
t?s 8.15am in the Pyrenees and we
have the mountains to ourselves. The
sun has just crept above the peaks. It?s
going to be a beautiful day. At the top
of the chairlift, after taking the gondola from the village in El Tarter, our
group of nine turns and follows our
guide, Simon. ?Go as fast as you like,? he
instructs before bombing down a wide red
run. The snow is perfectly groomed in a
corduroy pattern thanks to the work of the
piste-bashers the night before, and we fly
down without worrying about skiers
below (because we know there aren?t any).
It?s invigorating. It?s soul-lifting. It?s fast.
It?s fun. And it?s dirt cheap.
The Grandvalira ski area, the largest in
Andorra, with 210km (130 miles) of runs,
charges ?15 (�) for its ?first tracks? experience in which skiers join official guides
from the resort each Friday, an hour before
the mountain officially opens. A coffee and
a croissant are thrown in at a mountain
restaurant at 9am, although many keep on
skiing since the slopes are still so quiet.
Since few French or Spanish skiers seem
to have cottoned on to how fantastic this is,
most of the ?first tracks? skiers tend to be
Brits ? as are all of my group.
Andorra often gets a bad rap among
skiers, usually from those who have never
visited the tiny principality tucked
between France and Spain (population
85,000). Many say that it has limited skiing
and is best suited to beginners or those
simply seeking cheap booze and fags ?
Andorra?s tax-free system has spawned
vast supermarkets stocked with just about
every kind of liqueur, spirit and brand of
cigarette under the sun.
Yet the doubters are making a mistake.
Especially about Grandvalira, which has
a series of bases with gondolas and
chairlifts spanning from Pas de la Casa at
2,100m in the east (party central and very
French as it?s close to the border) to Encamp
at 1,300m in the west near the capital,
Andorra la Vella. This is where Spanish and
Catalan, the official language, are mainly
spoken. The pistes across this wide area
include a handful of black runs, a large
number of reds, and a network of blues that
are perfect for cruising along.
At the heart of Grandvalira is the village
of Soldeu (1,800m), which is the most
popular spot for Brits, with its pub and
cheap pizzerias, but I?m staying a tenminute drive away at El Tarter (1,710m),
a smaller village. The altitude at Grandvalira means that snow conditions are
usually reliable, although the snow-making machines are some of Europe?s best.
El Tarter is spread along the main road
that connects France and Spain, but it has
a peaceful feel away from the traffic. From
my lodgings at Hotel Del Clos it?s an easy
five-minute waddle to the gondola, which
zips to a peak called Riba Escorxada from
which I?m soon taking speedy chairlifts
and zooming down Rossinynol, a marvellous meandering blue run. It?s the perfect
boost after just a couple of days? skiing in
the past year, and the scenery is lovely with
pine forests and sweeping valley views.
Rapidly progressing to reds, I?m on the
blacks within a day. Most of these are
easier than in other resorts I?ve visited in
the Alps, although one run ? Avet, which
ends in the heart of Soldeu ? has a terrifying section or two. At the suntrap caf� by
the chairlift at the foot of El Tarter, I mug
up on Andorra?s fascinating history after a
great day on the mountains. The country
The slopes near El Tarter
Need to
know
Tom Chesshyre was a
guest of Neilson (0333
0143350, neilson.co.uk/
ski), which has a week?s
half-board at Hotel Del
Clos in El Tarter from
�5pp, departing on
January 7. Flights,
transfers and free
?mountain expert?
guiding and coaching are
included. A six-day lift
pass costs from �5. Ski
and boot hire for six days
costs from �
emerged, tradition has it, when Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorrans
for fighting against the Moors in
the early 9th century. The Bishop of
Urgell ? a county within Catalonia ?
oversaw affairs for many a year before an
invasion by the French and, eventually, the
present arrangements. Now the principality is run by two ?co-princes?, the Bishop of
Urgell and the French president, although
a general council oversees daily affairs.
Apart from tourism, Andorra?s main
earner, banking is strong ? and so
is smuggling. ?There?s a lot of dodgy cash
in Andorra,? says a local contact, who does
not want to be named (it is a small place
and there?s a great deal of gossip). ?It?s
brought in from the black market in Spain
and held in banks here to keep the Spanish
authorities off the scent, then it?s smuggled
back when it?s needed.? Great wads of
euros are often confiscated at the border
? as are cigarettes and bottles of spirits
that break the duty-free allowance: 1.5
litres of spirits or 300 cigarettes. It?s clear
there?s more to Andorra than just skiing.
The slopes are usually quiet during
the week, but they can get clogged at
weekends when the French and Spanish
arrive by car. On one day, to vary the scen-
ery, we take an excursion from the hotel to
Arcalis, a smaller ski resort famed for its
great off-piste. To get there we follow the
road towards Spain and take the two-mile
Dos Valires tunnel. The slopes at Arcalis
are almost empty and we traverse wide red
runs, slipping down on to off-piste sections
and bouncing through bumps.
On the way back to El Tarter we stop
in La Vella, as the capital is widely known,
and visit one of Andorra?s biggest non-ski
attractions: the Caldea geothermal spa,
with its many hot tubs and big pool. There?s
a fantastic outdoor section where you can
wallow in the bubbling water with snowcapped peaks rising all around the city
centre. What a superb experience.
On the final Saturday we catch a bus to
visit the tax-free shops. It?s not all booze
and fags. There are also fashion shops with
just about every brand as well as
shops that sell watches and sportswear,
electronics emporiums and Cuban cigar
stalls. To give an idea of how cheap it
all is: a litre of spirits ? such as Smirnoff
vodka ? is from about ?6.60 (�70)
But it?s the freedom of the slopes first
thing on Friday that I?ll remember, the
sheer joy of having the mountain to
ourselves. So inspiring. So free.
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 31
Style on the slopes
Apr鑣-ski!
The best
snow boots
For kids
Children?s Alpine snow
boots, �
jojomamanbebe.co.uk
For women
Faux fur Moon Boot,
�5
net-a-porter.com
Sorel Winter Carnival
boots, �0
sorelfootwear.co.uk
O?Neill Zephyr boots,
�
fieldandtrek.com
North Face Thermoball
boots, �
thenorthface.co.uk
The North Face Tsumoru
boots, �.99
ellis-brigham.com
Helly Hansen Tundra
boot, �0
hellyhansen.com
Sorel Portzman boots,
�0
sorelfootwear.co.uk
For men
Keen Basin snow boots,
�
sportsdirect.com
O?Neill Hucker boots,
�
sportsdirect.com
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the times Saturday October 14 2017
32 Travel
Luxury travel
Glitzy Gstaad:
where the fashion
set go to ski
This Swiss resort may be on the small side but it has stunning
scenery, cool hotels ? and great shopping. By Anna Murphy
W
hen your skiing
remains resolutely
without class, it
takes a certain
something
?
delusion? denial?
chutzpah? ? to
agree to go skiing in one of the classiest
resorts in Europe. Gstaad: even by
Switzerland?s standards it?s a cut above,
home to a phalanx of five-star hotels,
its streets lined with boutiques such as
Prada, Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton,
its slopes filled with people wearing
similarly high-end ski gear, and with the
skill set to match.
Most of the people who ski in Gstaad are
Swiss, which means they ski very well and
tend towards old-style parallel turns
rather than the new-gen carving
approach. Not very modern, maybe, but
lovelier to observe. Here is where you will
see beautiful people skiing beautifully,
a sight by turns inspiring and depressing
for a red-run-only-on-a-good-day journeywoman such as myself.
There isn?t a huge array of skiing,
compared with the vast tracts of the Three
Valleys or Portes du Soleil in France
anyway. Yet there is enough to keep you
busy for a week, provided that your tastes
don?t run to endless black runs, and you
don?t mind the occasional shuttle or train
trip from one resort to the next (usually
no more than 20 minutes or so). Besides,
the runs are so very lovely, darting
between trees, opening up on to
stunning vistas over what has
to be one of the most
picture-perfect Alpine
valleys.
It?s rare to come
across a landscape
that splices that
Touching the Voidstyle immensity
only truly epic
mountains
can
endow with a
quaintly domesticated scene, all pretty
chalets (many with a
row of giant cowbells
hanging by the front door)
and Gandalf-hat church steeples.
Indeed, it seems too good to be true
when you first find yourself in Saanenland,
as the area is called, having been hauled up
the slopes in the GoldenPass train from
Lake Geneva ? surely one of the most
charmingly mind-blowing train journeys
in the world. Can these very different
varieties of wonderfulness really be part of
the same scene? Were the pictures on
those tins of Caran d?Ache crayons not
works of fantasy after all?
Again and again, in and around Gstaad
you find yourself doing a similarly enchanting double-take.
You can be skiing a slope,
having turned left by
the woman in the
head-to-toe Fendi
(if you need to ask
the price, you
can?t afford it),
and
suddenly
find yourself next
to a barn, the telltale whiff of cows,
the
rustle of hay, the tinkle of bells bearing
testimony to an agricultural way of life that
remains largely unchanged.
Saanenland has 7,000 cows, about the
same number as people. To see a Porsche
parked next to a tractor on a street in one
of the smaller villages is not uncommon,
and locals told me that farmers and highflyers coexist remarkably happily.
The ?latest? attraction for the latter is
the five-star Alpina Gstaad hotel, which
opened in 2012. Many of the hotels in the
resort date from the first half of the last
century, when the opening of the railway
in 1905 turned it into one of the first ? and
smartest ? ski-tourism destinations.
The Alpina is all new, however, which
means that myriad bespoke tweaks make
it the perfect modern ski retreat: the
entrance is underground, for example,
well away from the snow, in a faux woodland glade sparkling with fairylights.
(There is no keeping it real here.)
Then there are the exceptionally
functional rooms, which come with
generous balconies, just in case you
haven?t had enough of those chocolatebox views in the day. (Although, note to
hoteliers everywhere, enough with these
newfangled lighting systems that are more
difficult to crack than the Enigma code.)
The chic Six Senses spa is of veritably municipal proportions, and even though
swimming in the outdoor pool on a snowy
night may not be for the faint-hearted, it
will render you full-hearted with joy
The Alpina Gstaad.
Left: the hotel?s Six
Senses spa. Above left:
one of the bedrooms.
Right: one of the grand
deluxe suites
should you do so.
Despite the Alpina?s state-of-the-art box
freshness, its interior combines a sense of
the past with all that is present: richly textured salvaged wood has been used
throughout so you feel as if you may be in
an oversized version of one of those Heidi
chalets, and there seems to be a capacious
stone fireplace round every corner. Then
there?s the mix of antique furniture ?
most notably a stunning array of painted
chests ? that animates the otherwise contemporarily furnished stealth-chic spaces.
Plus there is just a soup鏾n of bling
in the form of the owners? cutting-edge art
collection, Tracey Emin?s oeuvre thankfully not here represented by her infamous
My Bed. Not enough luxury? How about
the stunning 17th-century painted ceiling
in the foyer, or the pair of real magnolia
trees, in pinkest bloom, that sit beneath it?
You can eat indecently well at the
Alpina, taking your pick from a Michelinstarred modern European restaurant
and another that is Japanese, and not
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 33
Need to
know
Anna Murphy was a guest
at the Alpina Gstaad,
where a seven-night
break costs from
SwFr3,535pp (�730pp).
This is on a B&B basis,
with SwFr100 daily culinary credit per person
(thealpinagstaad.ch).
Return flights to Geneva
with Swiss start at �
(swiss.com).
The train ride to Gstaad
takes two and a half
hours and costs from
SwFr110 return
forgetting the fondue-fuelled Swiss St黚li,
a log-lined place so quaint and cosy that
you have to pinch yourself as a reminder
that you are not in a refuge up the
mountain. The champagne and P閞igord
truffle-laced fondue here is a thing of
beauty. And it would be rude not to follow
it with a light dessert of meringue and
double cream from nearby Gruy鑢es, said
cream edging dangerously close to our
clotted variety, yet as white as, well, snow.
Thank goodness there is no skiing required after that.
There are countless other culinary
treats locally, most notably at the restaurant 16 in the sweet nearby village of Saanen, where its version of steak tartare ?
made from veal and pimped with truffle
(spot the theme) ? is almost as unforgettable as the melt-in-the-mouth saaner blut
(black pudding to you and me, although
somehow that name doesn?t do it justice).
As to the wine, ask your host for advice
and drink local whenever you can; we imbibed exclusively Swiss, and exclusively
deliciously, during our four-night trip.
I wasn?t surprised that you can live, eat
and drink like a lord (or lady) in Gstaad.
Rich people are good at that, which
means the places they frequent tend to
be good at it too. What did surprise me, and
in turn beguile me, was how warm the
place was, how everyone from the lift
operator to the woman in the bakery was
friendly; how people went out of their way
to make your day better.
Similarly surprising was how oddly
unflashy the place was. Yes, there were the
swanky cars and the fur-trimmed jackets,
but compared with, say, St Moritz or ?
farther afield ? Aspen, it felt fairly lowkey, especially once you were on the
mountain, where the restaurants and bars
sell good, wholesome food at good, wholesome prices, and where ? in fact ?
outmodishly bland skiwear outnumbers
the blingier stuff three to one.
Gstaad felt just fine, in other words,
for a normal person and one with a
fairly shonky level of skiing at that.
34 Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 35
GETTY IMAGES; MIKE NEWMAN FOR THE TIMES
Low tide at St Ives port
A Weekend in . . .
St Ives, Cornwall
I
t?s quite a surreal feeling, gazing at
Modern Art & St Ives collection really
the hazy, saffron hues of a Mark
sets the tone, rather like walking into a
Rothko painting, while the Cornish
dinner party where all the big names are
rain drizzles gently into the Atlantic
present. The walls show vibrant abstract
Ocean, just outside the window. As
works by Roger Hilton and Peter
I walk into the central loggia of
Lanyon, while columns hold a sculptural
Tate St Ives, a swathe of abstract
work by Hepworth and Gabo?s intricate,
1950s paintings and sculptures wrestle
nylon construction. Other galleries bring
for my attention with the spectacular
in the work of those the artists met and
reflection of Porthmeor beach in the
were influenced by; a Picasso hangs next
mirrored glass that forms the entrance
to a cubist work by Nicholson, produced
to the gallery. It?s a perfect snapshot
after the two met in Paris.
of what makes St Ives unique; some
The exhibition is cleverly curated
of the most beautiful coastal landscapes
to tell not only the story of the individual
in Britain, framing the work of
artists, but also their role in the town,
world-class artists.
with vintage magazine articles,
This weekend is a big moment for the
invitations to gallery openings and
town, with the reopening of Tate St Ives
papers from the St Ives Arts Club, all
after a � million transformation
of which give an insight into when this
project and an 18-month closure.
small Cornish town was the epicentre
The gallery first opened in 1993 and
of modern British art.
showcased artists who lived
The big names may have passed away,
and worked in St Ives ? most
but St Ives is still a town dominated by
notably the sculptor Barbara
art in all its forms. Even in the
Hepworth, her husband Ben
thick, grey drizzle that covers
Nicholson and the Russian
most of our weekend it?s not
閙igr� Naum Gabo.
difficult to see why; the
By the time it closed for
sandy-mouthed harbour,
redevelopment in 2015, it
backed by a jumble of
A Barbara
was welcoming more
houses, with sweeping
Hepworth
than 250,000 visitors a
arcs of sand stretching
sculpture at
year ? far more than
out around St Ives Bay,
Tate St Ives
the space had been
is impossibly
designed for. Now an
picturesque.
additional gallery, cleverly
We get happily damp
built into the hillside,
pottering in and out of
will hold temporary
galleries showing every
exhibitions, leaving the
type of art imaginable:
existing building free to
ceramics, sculpture and
host a permanent collection
Turner-esque landscapes
of modernist art, built
at the Porthminster,
round the work of
mixed-media and abstract
local artists.
works at the St Ives
The first gallery in the
Society of Artists, and
One of the new galleries
at Tate St Ives
Need to
know
Annabelle Thorpe was a
guest of St Ives Harbour
Hotel and Carbis Bay
Hotel. St Ives Harbour
Hotel is a recently
refurbished Victorian
building perched above
the town, with an
impressive spa and lovely
outdoor terrace with
gorgeous views. Rooms
are spacious and
comfortable, many with
sea views. Doubles cost
from �9 B&B (01736
795221, stives-harbourhotel.co.uk)
Carbis Bay Hotel is a
St Ives institution, a
historic seaside hotel
that feels chic and
contemporary, with a
buzzy dining room
and spacious terrace
overlooking the
spectacularly beautiful
beach. Doubles cost from
�0 B&B (01736 795311,
carbisbayhotel.co.uk)
Entrance to Tate St Ives is
�.50; a combined ticket,
including entrance to
the Barbara Hepworth
Museum and Sculpture
Garden, costs �.50
(tate.org.uk). The Barbara
Hepworth Museum will
close for refurbishments
from October 29 until
next spring
endless teal-hued views on almost every
wall in town. When we?ve reached peak
seascape, we follow the coastal path back
to neighbouring Carbis Bay and sit in our
hotel room, gazing out at the real thing.
St Ives is more than an alfresco art
gallery, though. On our second day the
misty rain lifts enough to walk round the
headland to Porthmeor beach, where
we settle in at the chic beach caf� and
drink stiff flat whites while a clutch of
hardy surfers coast gently on the waves.
The South West Coast Path runs
through the town and we walk up on
to the next headland, where I marvel
at how untouched the beaches have
remained, despite more than a century
of tourism.
Along with the art and the walking in
the rain, we eat. Goodness, do we eat.
Fish and seafood come straight off the
boat here; we tuck into fish kebabs at
the Seafood Caf� on the high street,
springily fresh hake for dinner, bathed
in crab risotto, and in between we fend
off the rain with slabs of plum-crumble
slice from SH Ferrell & Son, a cubbyhole
baker that looks unchanged since
the 1950s. Later, in a side street, we
stumble across Norway Stores, an
old-fashioned grocer dating from
1896. It reminds me of Arkwright?s shop
in Open All Hours, a glimpse of a gentler,
simpler time.
It?s this that makes St Ives such a treat.
There are so many little glimpses of the
town as it once was, when Hepworth
worked in the Trewyn Studio ? now
the Barbara Hepworth Museum, a short
walk from the Tate (it?s possible to buy
combined tickets for visits to the
museum and the Tate) ? and when
Nicholson painted above the fishermen?s
nets in Porthmeor Studios, the oldest
remaining artists? studios in the country.
Sadly, it?s not all perfect. Locals reckon
that about 60 per cent of the town?s
houses are holiday lets, making it
harder for the community to sustain a
year-round economy.
Yet there is still something special
about St Ives. It?s rather wonderful to
visit a place that you have heard so
much about, and for it not to disappoint.
On our last evening we sit in the chic
Porthminster Beach Caf�, eating the
best crab linguine that I?ve tasted, while
the sand shimmers through the darkness
on the other side of the glass and the
inky sea rolls out into the ocean. For me,
St Ives has it all: wonderful art, beautiful
beaches, amazing food. Everything, apart
from the sun.
Annabelle Thorpe
36 Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 37
38 Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 39
More cool hotels
thetimes.co.uk/coolhotelguide
in the lounge at the front. These include
Northumberland rare-breed pork pies
with piccalilli, black pudding pakora with
mango chutney, and fish goujons with
tartare sauce. Afternoon tea is also
served here (with a ?G and tea? gin
version). The gin is Hepple, distilled in
Northumberland.
Of the three small plates I ordered,
my crab cakes were fresh, lemony and
flavoursome. The battered prawns were
succulent, with a zingy lemongrass and
ginger dressing, and the cheese board
was chock-a-block with fantastic local
cheeses, crackers and chutney, washed
down with a good glass of house red
(Robert oversees the wine list). Three
plates cost from about �.
The cool
hotel guide
The Cookie Jar,
Alnwick,
Northumberland
F
rom the terraced garden of
the Cookie Jar hotel you can
see the jagged 11th-century
ramparts of Alnwick Castle.
You can also spy a small
kennels tucked away at the
back ? this new 11-room
hotel expects shooting parties (there?s a
gun room by the reception). Inside, the
atmosphere is relaxed and refined, with
the feel of a cosy, dimly-lit private
members? club in Soho, London.
In a nutshell
In April Debbie and Robert Cook bought
this former convent, which dates from
mid-19th century, from the Catholic
church and have transformed it into a
sleek little hotel. Works have been
overseen by Debbie; Robert, who used
to be the chief executive of Malmaison
and Hotel du Vin and is now the UK
managing director of Virgin Active, has
taken a back seat. The name Cookie Jar
comes from their surname. The hotel
quietly opened late last month.
Who goes there?
It?s perfect for romantic couples.
Need to
know
What are the rooms like?
The rooms are reached by corridors with
oatmeal carpets and up stairs illuminated
by crystal chandeliers. The smoky-blue
colour scheme (officially the colour is
?juniper ash?, says Debbie) continues in
the bedrooms, which have woollen
blankets, tweed sofas, sash windows and
complimentary cookies in a jar, naturally
(gooey coconut-flavoured ones on my
visit). The bathrooms are smart, with
good-quality towels and Penhaligon?s
toiletries. The best of the cheapest rooms
are at the top on the second floor, with
exposed rafters and plenty of space:
Harehope and Alnmouth (from �0
B&B). Six rooms have castle views. Of
these, St Cuthbert?s Cave is perhaps the
pick, with a lot of space (from �5 B&B).
Which is the best room?
The Chapel suite is huge, with a high
ceiling, stained-glass windows and a
giant bed (from �0 B&B).
So what?s the food like?
The main restaurant will open in the
spring, but ?small plates? can be ordered
Tom Chesshyre was a
guest of the Cookie Jar
(01665 510465,
cookiejaralnwick.com),
12 Bailiffgate, Alnwick,
Northumberland
NE66 1LU; B&B double
rooms cost from �0;
wheelchair-access room
available; no singleoccupancy discount; dogs
are allowed on request
What else is there to do?
Go for a long walk along the beautiful
beach at Alnmouth and, of course, visit
Alnwick Castle (visitnorthumberland.com).
The highs, the lows, the verdict
Nine out of ten
This is a brilliant new place to stay in
the heart of an interesting market town
steeped in history, but it?s a pity that
there?s no bar, and dining in the lounge
is slightly awkward; it will be better
when the restaurant opens fully.
Tom Chesshyre
Do you agree?
Suggest hotels or get in touch:
coolhotels@thetimes.co.uk
40 Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 41
Cruising
The top cruises for winter sun
PAUL SOUDERS/GETTY IMAGES; ALAMY
Escape the cold by
sailing to South
America, spotting
wildlife in Africa or
cruising the South
China Sea, says
Sara Macefield
Festive Caribbean
Treat yourself to a helping of exotic
sunshine on this December voyage to
the Caribbean aboard one of the
mega-yachts of SeaDream Yacht Club.
Alfresco dining, sleeping on deck under
the stars, and racing around on jet-skis
from the ship?s water sports marina are
on offer as it sails through the French
Caribbean, stopping at the chic islands of
Guadeloupe, Martinique and St Barts.
Details An eight-night package that
includes a two-night room-only stay at
the Hilton Barbados, plus a five-night
sailing from Barbados to St Martin,
departs on December 14 and costs
from �195pp. This includes flights,
gratuities and drinks during the cruise
(020 7399 7670, mundycruising.co.uk/
seadream)
Central American cruise
Nature and culture take centre stage on
this voyage to Central America aboard
Thomson Cruises? new flagship, Tui
Discovery 2. Explore Belize?s
Anglo-Mayan heritage, with English
street names and ancient tribal
temples, and go cave tubing
through a maze of subterranean
lagoons. In Honduras the resort
isle of Roatan offers a beach
break, while the city of Trujillo
has a history dating back to
its discovery by Christopher
Columbus, along with wildlife
reserves.
Details A one-week round-trip
Exotic Explorer cruise from
Montego Bay in Jamaica, departing
on December 5, costs from �270pp,
including flights, drinks and gratuities
(0871 2302800, thomson.co.uk/cruise)
Sail into Arabia
Sun-baked landscapes await on this
voyage through the United Arab
Emirates. The cruise starts at the
glitzy playground of Dubai before
reaching Abu Dhabi, where the
marble opulence of the grand
Sheikh Zayed Mosque contrasts
with the high-speed thrills of the
Ferrari World theme park. Nearby
Sir Bani Yas Island offers a
relaxing beach-style getaway, while
Muscat, the charming capital of
Oman, reveals its 1,000 years of
history as an ancient trading post.
Details A seven-night round-trip
cruise from Dubai, departing on
February 24, costs from �099pp,
including flights (020 3426 3010,
msccruises.co.uk)
Spot whales in Mexico
Known as the world?s aquarium, the Sea
of Cortez off the Baja California
peninsula in Mexico is famous for its
feast of natural wonders. Its warm waters
have made it a premier location to spot
whale sharks and migrating grey whales.
Cabo San Lucas is a focal area for
whale-watching trips, and snorkellers
may come across sea lions, dolphins and
turtles. Calls at the Mexican cities of
La Paz, Loreto and Puerto Vallarta add
a cosmopolitan flavour.
Details A 12-night package that includes
the ten-night round trip from Los
Angeles departs on November 28. It
costs from �564pp, including flights
and an overnight hotel stay before the
cruise (0843 3742401, princess.com)
African river safari
Canary Islands quartet
Catch the balmy climes of the Canaries
on a voyage that visits four of the
islands in this Atlantic archipelago.
Stretch your legs on the slopes of
Tenerife?s Mount Teide, stride across the
sand dunes of Maspalomas on Gran
Canaria, and hike the volcanic, lunar-like
landscapes of the Timanfaya National
Park on Lanzarote. For authentic
Canarian character, explore La Palma?s
capital, Santa Cruz, with its colonial
architecture.
Details A 14-night round-trip sailing
from Southampton, departing on
January 6, costs from �299pp for an
ocean-view cabin (0800 0355242,
fredolsencruises.com)
Wading hippos and dozing lions play a
starring role in this cruise through the
Chobe National Park, which is also
home to one of Africa?s largest elephant
populations. This cruise safari on the
16-passenger African Dream riverboat,
being launched at the end of this year by
the French cruise line CroisiEurope, will
cover the most beautiful stretches of the
Zambezi and Chobe rivers. Another
highlight is a visit to Victoria Falls, plus
a stay at a game lodge.
Details A 12-day package, including
a three-night stay in Cape Town,
three-night cruise and four-night lodge
stay, costs from �250pp, departing on
December 14. Flights, most drinks and
excursions are included (020 7838 5991,
theluxurycruisecompany.com)
Top: Petit Anse beach in
Guadeloupe.
Left: Teide National Park
in Tenerife.
Above: an elephant in
Chobe National Park,
Botswana
From Chile to Argentina
Revel in the southern hemisphere
summer on this voyage to Latin America.
Chile?s Lake District at Puerto Montt
promises spectacular vistas of snowy
volcanoes, while vast glaciers and
jagged mountains mark the dramatic
landscape of the Chilean fjords. Trace
the route of the Portuguese explorer
Ferdinand Magellan across the Straits
of Magellan, before sailing round
Cape Horn towards Montevideo in
Uruguay, and Buenos Aires, the capital
of Argentina.
Details A 17-night package, which
comprises a 15-night sailing from
Valparaiso in Chile to Buenos Aires,
departs on December 7 and costs
from �601pp in an ocean-view
cabin. This is an �0 saving and
includes a free drinks package worth
$55pp (�pp) a day, an overnight
stay in Valparaiso before the W
the times Saturday October 14 2017
42 Travel
Cruising
Indonesia promises a heady mix of
unspoilt beaches and ancient temples
and traditions.
Details A 15-night sailing from Colombo
to Bali, departing on February 26,
costs from �060pp for suite
accommodation and includes
gratuities, minibar drinks and
selected internet use. Flights
cost extra (0800 0513829,
hl-cruises.com)
cruise and flights (0800 4414054,
celebritycruises.co.uk)
Wonders of the Nile
Discover the treasures of the Nile on
a voyage that uncovers the
mysteries of the pharaohs, from
the Valley of the Kings and
the tomb of Tutankhamun,
to Luxor?s breathtaking
Temple of Karnak. This
voyage takes passengers
back in time, helped by
the opulent Sonesta
Dahabiya Amirat
riverboat.
Details A one-week
voyage from Aswan to
Luxor, departing on
February 10, costs from
�797pp, including flights
and excursions (020 7407 2111,
discoveregypt.co.uk)
Asian adventures
Rainforest treks, trishaw trips and tea
plantation tours await on this voyage
from Sri Lanka to Bali, with the upscale
German line Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.
Spend a lazy day on the beaches of
Thailand?s Similan Islands and kayak
through the mangrove forests of
Langkawi in Malaysia, before plunging
into the high-rise glitz of Singapore.
Sail around the
South Pacific
The Similan Islands off
the west coast of Thailand
Get your skates on to take
advantage of this sailing to
the dreamy South Pacific.
Set sail from Sydney for
New Caledonia, where
French influences combine
with the Kanak tribal culture
on the isles of Grande Terre,
Lifou and Mar�. The Vanuatu
archipelago offers mesmeric Pacific
beauty at its best, with Port Vila and
Mystery Island having drop-dead
gorgeous beaches and rustic charm.
Details A 13-night package, including
the ten-night round-trip sailing from
Sydney, departs on November 19
and costs from �238pp, including
overnight flights and a one-night hotel
stay before the cruise (0844 4933033,
royalcaribbean.co.uk)
Cruise the Ganges
Let exotic India be your winter
warmer, with a cruise along the
holiest of rivers, the Ganges,
combined with a tour of the most
sacred sites. See India?s Golden
Triangle, with visits to Delhi, Jaipur
and Agra, for the Taj Mahal, and
cruise along the Ganges for a
fascinating insight into country?s
ancient traditions combined with its
British colonial legacy.
Details A 13-day package that combines
a six-day Golden Triangle tour with a
seven-night round-trip Ganges sailing
from Kolkata costs from �179pp based
on regular departures until March 2018
(0808 1689231, uniworld.com/uk)
Tour of the Far East
This Asia voyage promises an exotic
treat. From the limestone karsts dotted
through Ha Long Bay and the gripping
wartime and French colonial history of
Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, head to
the tropical Thai island of Koh Samui
and modern metropolis of Singapore.
Details A 15-night cruise from Hong
Kong to Bangkok, departing on
February 4, costs from �888pp.
This is a saving of more than �000
and includes flights, tips, internet and
other complimentary add-ons
(0345 5051920, oceaniacruises.com)
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 43
KRECHET/GETTY IMAGES
Karnak temple complex, Egypt
From Cuba to Cambodia: the best late deals
Yangtze business-class offer
Get a free one-way businessclass flight upgrade and a
�0 discount if you book an
Imperial Jewels of China
sailing with Viking River
Cruises (020 8780 7995,
vikingrivercruises.co.uk) by
October 31. Prices for the
14-day fly-cruise package,
which comprises the six-night
voyage along the Yangtze, plus
two-night stays in Shanghai
and Xian and three nights in
Beijing, start at �595pp.
On-board credit in Cuba
Holland America Line (0344
3388605, www.hollandamerica.
co.uk) is offering up to $300
onboard spending money for
bookings on all cruises made
this month. Its newest
destination is Cuba; a week?s
round-trip voyage from Fort
Lauderdale, departing on
January 3, costs from �9pp
cruise only.
Transatlantic crossing
Treat yourself to a
transatlantic crossing aboard
Cunard Line?s Queen Mary 2
that will take you to New York
at the height of its festive
celebrations. The seven-night
sailing, leaving Southampton
on December 8, has been
reduced by �0 and costs
from �9pp in a Britannia
Balcony Stateroom. The return
flight is also included (0344
3388650, cunard.co.uk).
Savings to Saigon
The upscale cruise and travel
company APT (0800 0463002,
aptouring.co.uk) is giving
customers a complimentary
upgrade to premium economy
on return flights if they book a
Mekong fly-cruise to Vietnam
and Cambodia by October 31.
The 15-day trip includes two
nights in Ho Chi Minh City, a
seven-night Mekong sailing,
and three nights in Siem Reap.
Prices start at �695pp for
departures on July 27 or
August 24; there are regular
departures through the year.
Mediterranean reduction
Book by the end of this month
to take advantage of a slew of
special savings from Voyages
to Antiquity (01865 302550,
voyagestoantiquity.com). The
specialist has cut up to �400
off the cost of cabins on its
14-day Voyage Through the
Middle Sea itinerary, from
Athens to Malaga, departing
on October 28, 2018. Prices
start at �395pp, including
flights, shore excursions,
gratuities and selected drinks.
South America bargain
Cruise & Maritime
Voyages (0844 9983930,
cruiseandmaritime.com) has
slashed the price of its
46- night trip to the Caribbean
and Central America on its
new flagship, Columbus, from
�609pp to �999pp. The
round trip, departing Tilbury
on October 29, calls at
Antigua, St Kitts, Cuba, Belize,
Costa Rica and Colombia.
Cut-price Caribbean
Enjoy the Caribbean aboard
the P&O Cruises (0344
3388003, pocruises.com) liner
Britannia, which departs on
November 24. The 14-night
round-trip sailing from
Barbados, with stops at Aruba,
St Lucia and Grenada, has
been reduced from the original
price of �599pp and costs
from �9pp, including flights.
Sara Macefield
44 Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 45
Overseas Travel
UK Holidays
DORSET?S燜inest燙ottages
Book爋n�44�8�44
Dorsetcoastalcottages.com
Book your
advertisement
or announcement
now at:
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Cruise &
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Overseas Travel
the times Saturday October 14 2017
46 Travel
ALAMY
Cape York Peninsula in
Queensland, Australia
Travel tips
Seaview hotel for Southampton
Set on a jetty in the marina, the new
Southampton Harbour Hotel & Spa has
been designed with the look of a
superyacht. The hotel has a rooftop bar,
85 colourful rooms, a small cinema and a
spa. Rooms cost from �5 a night, B&B
(southampton-harbour-hotel.co.uk).
New wellness break ? in Lapland
Forget visiting Santa and take a flight to Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland
for a three-night wellness break on Aurora Island, in the middle of the
frozen River Kemijoki. As well as yoga, you can hike through snowy
forests, go husky sledding, and alternate lakeside saunas with frozen
water dips. Stay in one of 11 apartments. It costs from �520pp, full
board, with flights and activities (regent-holidays.co.uk).
Kids go free up the Shard
If you?re visiting London this half-term, you
can get two free child tickets to the Shard
(theviewfromtheshard.com) for every
adult ticket bought. As part of a tie-up for
the new film Paddington 2, there?s a
Paddington-inspired treasure hunt, as well
as a virtual-reality slide that uses the
Shard as a helter-skelter. Jane Knight
Travel doctor
Q
My husband and I are going
to be in Cairns, Australia, in
November and we are
concerned we might not be
able to see any good parts
of the Great Barrier Reef; we heard
that it is all bleached in that region.
Are there any good ways to see it
near Cairns, or should we stay in
other towns near by to visit other
attractions instead?
Helen Kay, via email
A
Cairns is the gateway for
exploring the Great Barrier
Reef, and areas of reef there
have been bleached, but the
problem is more severe as you travel
north towards Port Douglas. There are
some good coral reef trips in Cairns
(try reefexperience.com.au) and it is a
great base from which to explore the
rainforest village of Kuranda and the
vast wilderness of the Cape York
Peninsula. If you would prefer a quieter
resort and a coral reef that is less
affected, you could take a few days to
drive down to Hamilton Island, one of
the Whitsunday Islands, about 300 miles
away. From here, coral reef day trips
start at about �0pp. Australian Sky
(01342 889770, australiansky.co.uk)
has a seven-day, self-drive tour,
starting in Cairns and travelling to
Hamilton Island, from about �0pp,
including car hire and six nights? B&B.
Q It?s my 50th birthday next year
and I want to do something special in
the summer with my two kids, who
will be 16 and 13. We don?t like
really hot temperatures ? our best
holiday to date was in Austria, where
we stayed at a five-star hotel in
Zell am See and did lots of walking,
enjoyed the scenery and spent the
odd day chilling by the pool. What
can you suggest?
Alison Smith, via email
A If you?d like another Austrian
adventure, Das Central (centralsoelden.com), a five-star hotel in S鰈den,
offers summer guests a card that gives
free use of the mountain lifts and access
to Area 47, a gigantic adventure park
where the teenagers could let off steam.
Rates start at about �900 in late July
for a week?s half-board for the three of
you. Alternatively, the Dolomites are a
superb summer playground, and if
you stay at the swish Rosa Alpina
(rosalpina.it) in San Cassiano, there are
walking trails from the door and its cosy
mountain lodge can be hired for a day,
or you can spend the night. Double
rooms start at about �6 B&B.
Q I booked car hire through Goldcar
at Nice airport. The initial cost looked
very reasonable. I was told that
I would have to pay a ?1,500 deposit
that would be returned automatically
once the car was returned. However,
when Goldcar took the deposit, it did
not use Visa?s official rate, which
meant that I lost about �0 ? almost
four times what I paid for the four
days of car hire.
Matthew Holland, via email
A Car-hire companies, like the
low-cost airlines, make most of
their profits from extra charges.
Unfortunately you allowed Goldcar to
make a killing by using a debit rather
than a credit card; if you?d used the
latter, the ?1,500 would have been
blocked. You also chose its full-full
fuel option and Goldcar told me that
because the tank of the car you returned
was not full, it used a portion of the
deposit to ?cover the costs?.
Julia Brookes is the Travel Doctor
Don?t put up with this
No room at our booked hotel
We booked three rooms at Motel 6
in Barstow, California, through
booking.com and duly received
confirmations and reminders.
Unfortunately flight delays and a
missed connection meant that we
did not arrive in Los Angeles until
10.30pm. En route I emailed the
property via the link on booking.com
to advise we would be very late. I also
used the ?manage booking link? to
request a late check-in.
When we arrived at the motel at
2am, we were told that it had no
knowledge of our booking, nor did it
have any rooms available. It also told
us that it had neither received my
email nor notification about the late
arrival. This was distressing and it took
some time to find another hotel. To
add insult to injury we received an
email asking if we had enjoyed our
stay. We have emailed booking.com
twice, but have had no response.
Carol Stewart, via email
Booking.com was not prepared to
explain what went wrong, but after my
intervention it swiftly offered you your
money back. ?Given our commitment to
supporting our customers at every
stage in their travel journey ? especially
when something unexpected occurs ?
because the property did not honour
this customer?s reservation and allow
them to check in late, we have offered a
full refund as a gesture of goodwill,?
said a spokesman.
If you book a hotel through a third
party, it?s always wise to contact the
hotel to check that the reservation
really is logged in its system.
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 traveldoctor@thetimes.co.uk.
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 October 14 2017
Travel 47
of
improvements in Andermatt since
2009, when Samih Sawiris, the
Egyptian-Montenegrin
businessman, bought the resort.
Since then six new lifts have
been built, three of them
popping up for this winter, plus
there?s a host of new runs and
increased snowmaking too.
Details A week?s B&B at Chedi
Andermatt costs from �750pp,
including flights and trains
(skisolutions.com)
10 New lift in Klosters
This year the link between Klosters
and Davos is being upgraded from
Jasna, Slovakia
an unwieldy T-bar to a high-speed
six-seater chairlift with racing-car
style seats, halving the journey time
to five minutes. Be among the first to
ski the new link with the Klosters
specialists PT Ski.
Details Three nights? half-board
at the Silvretta Parkhotel costs
from �5pp, including
transfers and ski guides (020
7736 5557, ptski.com). Flights
are extra
11 Powder in Japan
20
This season it?s all about
little-known Furano. It?s on Japan?s
northernmost island, Hokkaido,
northeast of Sapporo, which on average
receives 9m of snow each winter.
Ski Safari has a Powder Camp trip
that includes five days? tuition
with the Warren Smith Ski Academy,
and Flexiski (flexiski.com) has also
added the resort.
Details A nine-night trip with Ski Safari,
including the Warren Smith course,
costs from �079pp, B&B, including
flights and transfers (skisafari.com)
12 Heavenly in California
With a vast expanse of terrain ? all
over 2,000m ? Heavenly is an
impressive ski area that extends over the
California-Nevada state line. This season
it is expected to be popular, with the
resort back in Crystal Ski?s brochure
after a hiatus. In town there are cool
bars and restaurants.
Details A week?s room-only stay at the
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino costs from
the times Saturday October 14 2017
Travel 27
RICH ROBERTS; JENNA FOXTON; GEORGE ROSE/GETTY IMAGES; XANDRA M LINSIN
22
Snowbombing festival, Austria
tempting prices. Vemdalen has limited
skiing, but it?s good for beginners,
and the simple, smart Fallmoran
Apartments that Crystal is featuring are
a two-minute stroll from the ski school.
The apartments are simple but smart,
with fully equipped kitchens. For an
evening out it?s a short walk to
restaurants and bars.
Details A week?s self-catering costs
from �430 for a family of four,
including flights from Gatwick to
謘tersund and transfers, departing
on January 14 (020 8610 3123,
crystalski.co.uk)
rollercoaster. The ride reaches speeds of
42km/h (26mph) and descends 134m.
The price is ?26 for adults or ?22 for
children (skijuwel.com). Add to this a
new gondola to Auffach and Schatzberg,
and it?s an exciting season ahead. The
resort has great runs for intermediates
and a pretty village.
Details A week?s B&B costs from
�9pp, including flights in
January, staying at Haus Edelweiss
(igluski.com)
18 Toboggan in France
Snowbombing is the classic festival ?
the Glasto of the Alps. It?s back this
season (April 9-14) in Mayrhofen and,
although the line-up is under wraps,
it will be the biggest party in the
mountains if its past roster is anything
to go by. Our top tip: for apr鑣-ski
head to Butcher Hans Gasser
? tucked behind the Penkenbahn
gondola ? which has a DJ during
festival week, local Tyrolean speck
and plenty of beer.
Details Six nights? B&B at the Elisabeth
Hotel costs from �8pp, including a
festival ticket, departing on April 8
(0333 240 5815, snowbombing.com).
Flights are extra
Zoom down a 3km toboggan track with
a 450m vertical descent, travelling
through four tunnels with ?Monaco-style
turns and Le Mans straights?. The run,
which is called Luge XXL and will be
floodlit, zigzags down from the top of
the new speedy Courchevel 1650 lift.
Details A week?s half-board at Le
Portetta in Courchevel Moriond costs
from �766pp. Geneva flights with
Easyjet cost from � return, and
transfers cost from �3pp return
(portetta.com)
�254pp, including Heathrow flights and
transfers, departing on January 10 (020
8610 3123, crystalski.co.uk)
13 Olympics in
South Korea
The eyes of the world will turn to
Pyeongchang ? just south of the North
Korean border ? in February when it
hosts the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Yongpyong is South Korea?s biggest
resort, with good skiing for recreational
skiers too.
Details An eight-night tour of
Yongpyong and Seoul costs from
�395pp, including flights and transfers
(01273 224 060, skisafari.com). Also see
gokorea.co.uk
14 Snowsure in the Alps
?Nightjet? sleeper trains by the Austrian
rail operator 諦B depart Cologne every
evening at 9.21pm, arriving in Innsbruck
at 9.14am the next day. The train also
stops earlier at Kufstein, W鰎gl and
Jenbach. To reach Cologne take
the Eurostar to Brussels, then an
inter-city train.
Details Return fares from
London start at �5. Ffestiniog
Travel (01766 772030,
ffestiniogtravel.com) can book
the whole journey from the UK.
Also see snowcarbon.co.uk
Best for families
16 Playpool in La
Plagne, France
Last winter was tricky in the Alps. In
many resorts the snow came in
mid-November and didn?t fall again
for more than 50 days. Yet one resort,
tucked away in the Austrian Vorarlberg,
has received the most abundant snowfall
in the Alps for three consecutive years.
Warth-Schr鯿ken had an impressive
9.25m (it?s long-term average is 10.6m).
Details A week?s half-board at the
Lechtaler Hof boutique hotel costs from
�445pp, including flights and transfers
(snow-wise.com)
The people behind the funky, good-value
RockyPop Hotel in Chamonix have
refurbished the Araucaria Hotel & Spa in
La Plagne in time for this winter, adding
a children?s play area with a popcorn
machine and a play pool next
to the main swimming pool. There?s also
a stylish cocktail bar and a full range of
spa treatments for parents.
Details A week?s half-board for a family
of four in January costs from �236
with Gatwick flights (01483 345681,
inghams.co.uk)
15 New ski train, Austria
17 New resort in Sweden
There is a new overnight train to the
Austrian Tyrol launching this winter. The
Crystal Ski has begun trips to the little
ski resort of Vemdalen with some
19 Austria for Easter
4
Splash about in the new Endless Sky
infinity pool ? the highest in the
Alps, at 2,050m ? while staying at
the stylish, family-friendly Hotel
Mooshaus this Easter holiday in
the resort of K黨tai. Esprit Ski
has week-long breaks departing
on March 24 and 31. It?s a
40-minute transfer from
Innsbruck and the slopes suit
all skiers.
Details A week?s half-board costs
from �420 for a family of four,
including Gatwick flights and
transfers (01483 791920,
espritski.com)
20 Half-term in Slovakia
Stay at a lovely hotel in the Low Tatras
mountains in Slovakia for a
great-value break during the February
half-term. The three-star Bj鰎nson Hotel
is in the small resort of Jasna, which has
decent runs for beginners and
intermediates. A beer in Slovakia costs
?1 and a two-course meal is ?8.
Details A week?s half-board at Bj鰎nson
Hotel costs from �9pp, including
flights, transfers, lift passes and
equipment (mountainparadise.co.uk)
21 Alpine rollercoaster
Austria?s charmingly traditional
resort of Alpbach, in the extensive
Ski Juwel area, has a new 1km-long
Best for partying
22 Festival in Austria
23 Apr鑣-ski in France
Expect high-energy rock concerts on
the slopes at this very French festival
in the huge Portes du Soleil ski area.
This season the charming village of Les
Gets is the host resort, with apr鑣-ski
concerts and events once the lifts
close. Or for season-long partying, Val
d?Is鑢e is the nightlife capital of the
French Alps.
Details Seven nights? half-board
at the H魌el Alpina costs from �7pp
(alpineelements.co.uk), including flights
and transfers. In Val d?Is鑢e a week?s
chalet board at the super-luxurious
Chalet Shar Pei, sleeping eight, costs
from �900pp (scottdunn.com)
24 Party in Whistler
Canada?s Whistler ranks highly when it
comes to partying. Most regulars flock
to the Garibaldi Lift Co Bar & Grill at
the foot of the slopes, which kicks off
at 4pm and has daily live music. Across
town, BrewHouse is another popular
choice, with a large selection of craft
beers and ales.
Details A week?s room at Whistler
Peak Lodge costs from �170pp,
including flights (0330 102 8004,
skiworld.co.uk)
More great ski holidays
the times Saturday October 14 2017
28 Travel
33
31
Engadin ski marathon
Alborz mountains in Iran
25 Solo skiing
There are a growing number of singles
ski holidays this winter. Friendship
Travel has added Chalet Refuge &
Lodge, a second ?Houseparty? chalet
holiday, to its programme in Serre
Chevalier in France, with six departure
dates during the season. Solos, the
singles travel specialist, has also
expanded, with a new holiday to
Folgarida in Italy. With 53km of slopes,
the resort is best suited to beginners and
intermediate skiers.
Details A week?s chalet board at Chalet
Refuge & Lodge costs from �075pp,
including flights, transfers and six ski
lessons (friendshiptravel.com). A week?s
half-board at Hotel Kapriol in Folgarida
costs from �9pp, with flights and
transfers (solosholidays.co.uk)
Best for food and drink
26 Giorgio Locatelli
in Alta Badia
It?s the ninth year of A Taste for Skiing
in the Italian Dolomites resort of Alta
Badia. The festival, running throughout
the season, comprises a series of events,
including the pairing of 13 mountain
huts with Italian Michelin-starred chefs,
who create dishes starting from ?15 for
a main course (with a matched glass of
wine). This year the line-up includes
Giorgio Locatelli and Nicola Laera.
Details A week?s half-board stay at
Sporthotel Teresa (Badia) costs from
�5pp, departing from Manchester or
Gatwick on January 6, including
transfers (neilson.co.uk)
27 New micro-brewery,
Verbier, Switzerland
29 Tapas in the
Pyrenees
The French Pyrenees are ? wrongly ?
off the radar of many British skiers. The
resorts are vast, the crowds non-existent,
the food great and there are spas
aplenty. In Saint Lary, with its 100km of
slopes, it is the food that stands out, with
its Spanish influences (the resort is a few
kilometres from the border). Coincide
a trip with January?s Black Pig festival,
which features pop-up stalls.
Details Four nights? B&B at the Mercure
Hotel in St Lary costs from �3pp, with
flights (skiweekends.com)
Best for experts
30 Refuge in Val Thorens
Ski off-piste from the top of France?s
Val Thorens, or ?skin? uphill, aided by
material that sticks to the bottom of your
skis, to the Lac du Lou mountain refuge,
which opens for overnight stays this
winter. Perched by the side of the
eponymous lake, the mountain hut
can sleep 31.
Details Prices are expected to be about
?40 a night (00 33 4 79 00 08 08,
valthorens.com)
Vie Montagne is the hottest new
restaurant in Verbier, with its own
micro-brewery producing
craft beers
31 Ski in Iran
(viemontagne.com).
The pistes in Iran used
Food is locally
to be sex-segregated,
sourced, including
with police on the
an array of hams
slopes monitoring
and cheeses, plus
activity. These
beef dishes
days things are
and salads.
more relaxed and
Flatbreads and
this season the
pizzas are
company
baked in the
Mountain Heaven
wood-fired oven
has trips taking
and there?s a
in Dizin, the
choice of
country?s largest
a formal dining room
26 Taste for Skiing festival resort 45 miles north
upstairs or a more
of Tehran, as well as
casual one on the lower
the smaller Shemshak
floor; three courses costs from
and Darbansar. You?ll need to be a
about �. For more information
strong skier.
on Verbier see verbier4vallees.ch/en
Details An eight-day tour in March costs
Details A week?s B&B at the
from �300pp, including most meals and
Hotel Montpelier, which has a pool
transfers (mountainheaven.co.uk). Flights
and sauna, costs from �135pp,
and lift passes are extra. For travel advice
including flights and transfers,
see fco.gov.uk
departing on January 13 (020 7471
7741, skisolutions.com)
28 Wine festival, Austria
The Wein am Berg food and wine
festival in S鰈den has a growing following;
next year?s event takes place from April
19-22. Top chefs and sommeliers are
invited to impart their expertise at the
chic, five-star Das Central hotel, as well as
on the slopes. The highlight is a wine
tasting at 3,000m, an altitude at which
?wines develop a special aroma?. Das
Central is one of Austria?s top hotels, with
luxurious suites and a great spa.
Details A week?s stay at Das Central
costs from ?2,870pp, arriving on April 15
(central-soelden.com); flights to
Innsbruck are from � covering
those dates (easyjet.com)
32 Ski touring, Spain
The popularity of ski touring ? skiing
uphill, aided by special ?skins?, to find
remote and untouched powder ?
shows no signs of letting up. Baqueira
Beret in the Spanish Pyrenees is a
great place to learn, with accessible
off-piste terrain and stunning
scenery. Assemble a group of four
friends to book this four-day course.
New this winter, it includes avalanche
awareness training.
Details Four nights? B&B at the Hotel
Himalaia costs from �025pp, based
on four travelling, including flights from
Gatwick to Toulouse, car hire, twin
rooms and the services of a guide
(01243 929121, summitandblue.com)
33 Swiss ski marathon
Take part in Switzerland?s biggest
cross-country race, which celebrates
its 50th anniversary next year. It takes
place in Engadin on March 11 and will
feature 13,000 competitors from more
than 60 countries, including Fran鏾ise
Stahel, 80, above, who has competed in
every race. Combine it with a week?s
skiing in nearby glitzy St Moritz, which
has a ski-pass offer. Stay for more than
one night in any St Moritz hotel and a
pass costs SwFr38 a day (usually SwFr79).
Details Race entry costs SwFr100
before December 31 (engadinskimarathon.ch). A week?s half-board at
the Hotel Hauser in St Moritz costs
from �040pp, including flights and
transfers (inghams.co.uk)
34 Early ski in Tignes
Brush up your technique before the
season on a Snoworks Autumn Ski
Course in the French resort of Tignes
that includes training for bumps,
all-mountain skiing, carving and race
technique on early snow.
Details A week?s course with five full
days? tuition costs �0, starting on
October 28. A week?s half-board at the
L?Aiguille Perc閑 costs from �0pp
(snoworks.co.uk). Flights cost extra
35 Learn from the
Eagle, Canada
Combine a week?s skiing at Kicking
Horse with a lesson in ski jumping at
the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary,
taught by the master himself, Eddie ?the
Eagle? Edwards. The trip is suitable for
anyone who can comfortably ski red
runs ? and has good nerves.
Details Seven nights? B&B, with two
hosted dinners, costs from �295pp,
with flights, transfers, a ski guide
and ski passes (0117 230 5135,
kickinghorsepowdertours.com)
Best for beginners
36 Blue runs, Italy
Thinking of making this the year you
learn to ski? Italy is a safe bet, with great
food, good atmosphere ? and it?s cheap.
Passo Tonale has long been a beginners?
favourite, with its sunny slopes by the
village for the first few wobbly turns, plus
lots of wide blue runs. The Presena ski
school (scuolasci-tonalepresena.it) is
popular with beginners and has
English-speaking instructors.
Details A week?s half-board costs
from �5pp, with flights and
transfers, departing on December 16
(020 8610 3123, crystalski.co.uk)
37 Learn to ski, Austria
Two ingredients make learning to ski
a damn sight less painful. The first is
beautifully manicured pistes, the second
is a swanky pad to retreat to once legs
start aching. Lech has both of these in
abundance. And there is a final benefit:
a great ski school (skischule-lech.com).
There are many good nursery runs.
Details A week?s half-board at the
Hotel Tannbergerhof costs from �9pp,
including flights and transfers, departing
on December 16 (crystalski.co.uk)
38 Budget lessons
in France
27
Vie Montagne, Verbier
Unless you are a great fan of 1960s
brutalist architecture, Flaine can only be
described as one thing: ugly. But it?s in
the mountains, with good views, and it?s
great for beginners. Action Outdoors,
the activity holiday specialist, is a good
option for beginners on a budget and
has holidays with almost everything
(including lessons) thrown in.
Details A week?s all-inclusive costs
from �2pp, including equipment, lift
passes and full-day lessons, departing
the times Saturday October 14 2017
ALAMY; YVES GARNEAU; LORENZ RICHARD
Travel 29
45 Italy for less
The Monterosa ski area covers the
resorts of Champoluc, Gressoney and
Alagna, all connected to the Aosta
Valley. The skiing is varied, with
slopes to suit beginners, intermediates
and experts. The region is renowned
for its excellent restaurants, although
nightlife is usually quiet. In January
prices are low.
Details A week?s half-board at Chalet
Hotel de Champoluc costs from �9pp
in January, including flights and
transfers (01483 791114, inghams.co.uk)
46 New year in the Alps
Ski Collection has 10 per cent off
new year ski deals to La Rosi鑢e, the
popular French resort ? although you
must book before October 31. The
company offers good-quality
self-catering with Eurotunnel crossings.
Details A week?s self-catering at Le
Lodge Hemera costs from �4pp with
Ski Collection (skicollection.co.uk)
47 Cut-price Canada
Panorama Mountain Resort in British
Columbia has great slopes for experts,
and conditions are usually excellent
(panoramaresort.com). Crystal Ski says
it is the best value for transatlantic trips,
particularly if you travel in late January
when prices are lowest.
Details A week?s self-catering with
flights at Pine Inn costs from �9pp,
including flights, departing on January
24 (crystalski.co.uk)
Best for snowboarding
48 Three parks in
Saalbach, Austria
on January 27 (020 3328 5443, actionoutdoors.co.uk). Flights cost extra
39 Chalet stay, Italy
Cervinia, on the other side of the
Matterhorn from glitzy Zermatt, is
another favourite with learners ? and
a great budget option. And there is good
reason, thanks to its combination of
record of sunshine, easy blues and a vast
beginners? area ? with a ?magic carpet?
and short chairlift ? that?s covered on a
special limited day pass.
Details A week?s chalet board at the
Xtra Chalet Dragon is from �7pp,
including flights and transfers
(01483 791114, inghams.co.uk)
40 Learn in Bulgaria
Pamporovo is a resort best suited to
beginners; intermediates will find
the runs limited. But anyone who is
considering taking up skiing, or perhaps
going on a second trip while still feeling
tentative about being on skis, can
pick up a great deal.
Details A week?s stay at the Castle
Apartments in Pamporovo costs from
�4pp, based on six sharing, with
flights (balkanholidays.co.uk)
Best on a budget
41 Dolomites in March
You don?t have to break the bank to
stay in a lovely traditional hotel in the
quiet village of Campitello in Val di Fassa.
Go in March, when conditions are usually
good, and the price can dip below �0pp
with flights and transfers included.
Details A week?s B&B stay at Hotel
Rododendro costs from �5pp, with
flights, departing on March 17
(crystalski.co.uk)
42 Film festival,
France
43 Andorra on the cheap
Save cash by trying a ski holiday this
winter in Andorra, where prices tend to
be lower than in the Alps. You can also
pick up great deals on duty-free. Soldeu
is in the heart of the extensive (210km)
Grandvalira ski area with plenty of
cheerful pizzerias and bars.
Details A week?s half-board
costs from �5pp on
January 7, with flights,
Les Arcs, France
transfers and free
ski-guiding
(neilson.co.uk)
42
Film buffs who enjoy
taking to the slopes
can time an
early-season ski
break to coincide
with the fabulous
Les Arcs
European Film
Festival, which
is being held
from December
16-23 (lesarcsfilmfest.com/en).
Prices are especially
reasonable with Erna Low
in December and the ski
conditions are usually reliable: most
slopes are above 2,000m, reaching as
high as 3,250m. More than 120 films will
be shown at this year?s festival and there
will also be DJ sets.
Details A week?s self-catering in a
Residence Le Village apartment sleeping
two in Arc 1950 costs from �5,
starting on December 16; flights and
airport transfers are extra
(ernalow.co.uk)
44 Chalet
in Austria
If you?re after a
bargain-basement
deal, Iglu Ski
makes a handy first
port of call. This
winter its cheapest
break is in Kitzb黨el in
Austria. At the time of
going to press, a week?s stay at
a simple but charming shared chalet
at the popular resort is less than
�0pp in mid-December. Kitzb黨el
has great runs for intermediates,
excellent ski lifts, a lovely medieval town
centre, and some of the best nightlife in
the Alps.
Details A week?s chalet board costs
from �5pp departing on December
16 from Manchester, with transfers
(igluski.com)
Prefer hoofing about the mountain on
one plank, as opposed to two sticks?
Saalbach-Hinterglemm ticks all the
boxes for snowboarders, with great
off-piste freeride terrain and
three impressive snowparks. The
Nightpark, near Hinterglemm village,
is the biggest, with huge jumps and
kickers ? plus it?s open until 9.30pm
most nights.
Details Seven nights? half-board at
Hotel Sport Berger costs from �020pp,
including flights (igluski.com)
49 Freestyle courses
in Switzerland
There?s an Olympic-length superpipe,
as well as some of Europe?s best
snowparks and great off-piste
freeride areas, in Laax. And for
8 to 17-year-olds starting out on the
jumps, there are courses at the Laax
Freestyle Academy, beginning in a
huge indoor freestyle centre, with
trampolines and soft foam landings,
before heading out to the snow.
Details A week?s course with
accommodation and full board costs
from SwFr1,150pp in February
(freestyleacademy.com)
50 Learn in Tignes
Just starting out? Proper snowboard
lessons are the best way to progress.
Action Outdoors, the activity holiday
specialist, has Tignes holidays in
France that include equipment hire
and lessons.
Details A week?s all-inclusive,
staying at the newly renovated
UCPA in Tignes, costs from �1pp,
including full-day lessons, equipment
and lift passes, departing on
December 23 or January 6 (020 3328
5443, action-outdoors.co.uk). Flights
cost extra
the times Saturday October 14 2017
30 Travel
The tiny principality
between France and
Spain is perfect for
intermediate skiers,
says Tom Chesshyre
ALAMY
Welcome to Andorra:
great slopes and no queues
I
t?s 8.15am in the Pyrenees and we
have the mountains to ourselves. The
sun has just crept above the peaks. It?s
going to be a beautiful day. At the top
of the chairlift, after taking the gondola from the village in El Tarter, our
group of nine turns and follows our
guide, Simon. ?Go as fast as you like,? he
instructs before bombing down a wide red
run. The snow is perfectly groomed in a
corduroy pattern thanks to the work of the
piste-bashers the night before, and we fly
down without worrying about skiers
below (because we know there aren?t any).
It?s invigorating. It?s soul-lifting. It?s fast.
It?s fun. And it?s dirt cheap.
The Grandvalira ski area, the largest in
Andorra, with 210km (130 miles) of runs,
charges ?15 (�) for its ?first tracks? experience in which skiers join official guides
from the resort each Friday, an hour before
the mountain officially opens. A coffee and
a croissant are thrown in at a mountain
restaurant at 9am, although many keep on
skiing since the slopes are still so quiet.
Since few French or Spanish skiers seem
to have cottoned on to how fantastic this is,
most of the ?first tracks? skiers tend to be
Brits ? as are all of my group.
Andorra often gets a bad rap among
skiers, usually from those who have never
visited the tiny principality tucked
between France and Spain (population
85,000). Many say that it has limited skiing
and is best suited to beginners or those
simply seeking cheap booze and fags ?
Andorra?s tax-free system has spawned
vast supermarkets stocked with just about
every kind of liqueur, spirit and brand of
cigarette under the sun.
Yet the doubters are making a mistake.
Especially about Grandvalira, which has
a series of bases with gondolas and
chairlifts spanning from Pas de la Casa at
2,100m in the east (party central and very
French as it?s close to the border) to Encamp
at 1,300m in the west near the capital,
Andorra la Vella. This is where Spanish and
Catalan, the official language, are mainly
spoken. The pistes across this wide area
include a handful of black runs, a large
number of reds, and a network of blues that
are perfect for cruising along.
At the heart of Grandvalira is the village
of Soldeu (1,800m), which is the most
popular spot for Brits, with its pub and
cheap pizzerias, but I?m staying a tenminute drive away at El Tarter (1,710m),
a smaller village. The altitude at Grandvalira means that snow conditions are
usually reliable, although the snow-making machines are some of Europe?s best.
El Tarter is spread along the main road
that connects France and Spain, but it has
a peaceful feel away from the traffic. From
my lodgings at Hotel Del Clos it?s an easy
five-minute waddle to the gondola, which
zips to a peak called Riba Escorxada from
which I?m soon taking speedy chairlifts
and zooming down Rossinynol, a marvellous meandering blue run. It?s the perfect
boost after just a couple of days? skiing in
the past year, and the scenery is lovely with
pine forests and sweeping valley views.
Rapidly progressing to reds, I?m on the
blacks within a day. Most of these are
easier than in other resorts I?ve visited in
the Alps, although one run ? Avet, which
ends in the heart of Soldeu ? has a terrifying section or two. At the suntrap caf� by
the chairlift at the foot of El Tarter, I mug
up on Andorra?s fascinating history after a
great day on the mountains. The country
The slopes near El Tarter
Need to
know
Tom Chesshyre was a
guest of Neilson (0333
0143350, neilson.co.uk/
ski), which has a week?s
half-board at Hotel Del
Clos in El Tarter from
�5pp, departing on
January 7. Flights,
transfers and free
?mountain expert?
guiding and coaching are
included. A six-day lift
pass costs from �5. Ski
and boot hire for six days
costs from �
emerged, tradition has it, when Charlemagne granted a charter to the Andorrans
for fighting against the Moors in
the early 9th century. The Bishop of
Urgell ? a county within Catalonia ?
oversaw affairs for many a year before an
invasion by the French and, eventually, the
present arrangements. Now the principality is run by two ?co-princes?, the Bishop of
Urgell and the French president, although
a general council oversees daily affairs.
Apart from tourism, Andorra?s main
earner, banking is strong ? and so
is smuggling. ?There?s a lot of dodgy cash
in Andorra,? says a local contact, who does
not want to be named (it is a small place
and there?s a great deal of gossip). ?It?s
brought in from the black market in Spain
and held in banks here to keep the Spanish
authorities off the scent, then it?s smuggled
back when it?s needed.? Great wads of
euros are often confiscated at the border
? as are cigarettes and bottles of spirits
that break the duty-free allowance: 1.5
litres of spirits or 300 cigarettes. It?s clear
there?s more to Andorra than just skiing.
The slopes are usually quiet during
the week, but they can get clogged at
weekends when the French and Spanish
arrive by car. On one day, to vary the scen-
ery, we take an excursion from the hotel to
Arcalis, a smaller ski resort famed for its
great off-piste. To get there we follow the
road towards Spain and take the two-mile
Dos Valires tunnel. The slopes at Arcalis
are almost empty and we traverse wide red
runs, slipping down on to off-piste sections
and bouncing through bumps.
On the way back to El Tarter we stop
in La Vella, as the capital is widely known,
and visit one of Andorra?s biggest non-ski
attractions: the Caldea geothermal spa,
with its many hot tubs and big pool. There?s
a fantastic outdoor section where you can
wallow in the bubbling water with snowcapped peaks rising all around the city
centre. What a superb experience.
On the final Saturday we catch a bus to
visit the tax-free shops. It?s not all booze
and fags. There are also fashion shops 
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