Category Archives: Travel articles

First glimpse of Britannia, P&O Cruises brand new cruise ship

It cost more than £520 million to build, weighs 141,000 tons and will carry more than 3,600 passengers. And this Friday Britannia, P&O Cruises brand new cruise ship, will be making her way from the Fincantieri shipyard in Trieste, Italy, to her new home in Southampton, ahead of the official launch ceremony on March 10th.

Britannia P&O Cruises
Britannia is P&O Cruises’ largest cruise ship and sets sail for England on Friday

Journalists and travel agents were given a sneak preview last weekend, including a tour round the vessel guided by Britannia’s Captain Paul Brown.

P&O Cruises chairman David Dingle and chief executive David Noyes were part of our group, as were P&O’s new ‘food heroes’ Olly Smith, Eric Lanlard and Charlie Turnbull, respectively in charge of the wine, cakes and cheese offering on the ship.

Britannia P&O Cruises
It was a rainy Sunday morning but Britannia was still an impressive sight

The rainy day didn’t detract from the impressive sight of Britannia, P&O’s largest cruise ship to date, which will boost P&O’s passenger capacity by 24 per cent.  At 1.082 ft long, and with 15 passenger decks, she displays the world’s largest Union Flag on her bows (94 metres long) and she was pretty impressive on the inside too. Continue reading First glimpse of Britannia, P&O Cruises brand new cruise ship

What’s wrong with having a photobombing yellow car?

Poor Peter Maddox. The 82-year old has been accused of allowing his little yellow Vauxhall Corsa to ‘photobomb’ otherwise picturesque shots of Arlington Row in Bibury, acknowledged as one of the prettiest streets in Britain.

I’d like to make the point that the cheerful little motor actually adds to the scenery, not detracts from it.

True, it might look more like something you’d find in an episode of Inbetweeners.

But without its presence the row of cottages would just look exactly like a postcard, or a publicity shot, and one that could have been copied and pasted from any number of VisitEngland brochures.

The inclusion of Mr Maddox’s car means you can actually prove you were there, and in a living, breathing, inhabited village rather than one which every aspect of human life (including the need to park your car somewhere) has been irradicated in favour of a pretty picture.

In solidarity therefore, here is my equally comic-looking car, a bright yellow Fiat Seicento (looking even more like the Inbetweeners’ car, if that’s possible) in a variety of rather beautiful settings:

Here’s  the Fiat outside the rather posh Luckham Hotel and Spa near Bath…

photobombing yellow car

The next day it popped over to the also very lovely hotel The Pig near Bath

photobombing yellow car

Recently it visited the Compleat Angler in Marlow

photobombing car

This very nice man at the ultra-swanky Cliveden House Hotel (yes, the Profumo one) couldn’t wait to get my car out of the way (I mean, very kindly offer to park it for me)

photobombing yellow car

However I would argue it complements the beauty of Cliveden rather well…

photobombing yellow car

…even outshining the newly restored bell tower. It’s hard to compete with a little yellow car!

One Aldwych: a slice of luxury in London’s West End

There was a lion right outside my hotel room. Well, to be more accurate, a Lion King.

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The view from my bedroom at One Aldwych hotel in Covent Garden

The Lyceum theatre in Covent Garden, which has been home to the hugely successful Lion King musical for more than 15 years, was about 10 metres from my bedroom window. I peered down on the crowds as people started gathering for the evening’s performance, safe and unseen in my warm sanctuary…that is, until I realised that I was being spied on in turn, by  people peeping out of their window at the very top of the theatre. It was time to stop people-watching, and retreat to the spa.

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One Aldwych is right at the heart of London’s West End

One Aldwych hotel is situated right on the corner which marks the beginning of of the Aldwych semi-circle which also houses the Australian and India High Commissions and Bush House, once home to the BBC World Service. As a Central London location it is hard to beat, with not just Theatreland on its doorstep but Covent Garden, the Strand, Holborn, the South Bank and Somerset House all just a few minutes walk away.

In spite of being on the corner of one of London’s busiest streets, the hotel itself is an oasis of tranquility, particularly in its subterranean spa which includes an 18-metre swimming pool. Continue reading One Aldwych: a slice of luxury in London’s West End

Volcanoes and fire-dancing: just a typical day in Papua New Guinea

Swimming near a school of dolphins, walking on a recently-erupted volcano and diving to a wreck of a World War 2 Japanese fighter plane might seem like once-in-a-lifetime events but in Papua New Guinea, it is just an average morning.

I was spending 10 days travelling round Papua New Guinea, which is just 100 miles north of Queensland, Australia but 8,600 miles and halfway across the globe from the UK.

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The golden sands and crystal clear waters of Papua New Guinea

Having been previously colonised by Germany and Britain, and governed by Australia, Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975 and is now part of the Commonwealth – (driving is on the left, as in the UK and Australia) but it is also one of the most diverse and undiscovered places on the planet.

There are thought to be more than 800 different languages spoken among Papua New Guinea’s seven million inhabitants and four-fifths of the population live in remote rural areas. There are few roads, so travel is done by boat and plane, and the country is one of the least charted in the world. Continue reading Volcanoes and fire-dancing: just a typical day in Papua New Guinea

My island adventure: discovering Majorca by helicopter, road and £1.5 million luxury yacht

To get my bearings on my first ever trip to the island of Mallorca, a helicopter ride seemed like the perfect idea.

From my vantage point hundreds of feet in the air, I could see all the way from the mountains to the beaches, taking in sheer cliffs and sparkling bays and everything from vineyards and golf courses to swimming pools, marinas and millionaire’s mansions.

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Mallorca by air is pretty impressive
holidays in majorca
The helicopter ride was a great way to see every part of the island
The coastline stretches on for miles
The coastline stretches on for miles

There was Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ house, round the next cliff was the £30 million Mallorcan castle where Princess Diana reportedly stayed and just below me…

‘That’s Magaluf,’ says Jonny, my pilot and guide for the morning. ‘Down there.’

I peer down past my feet to what looks like just a few streets running parallel to a beach, with high-rise hotels and a few swimming pools visible from the air.

holidays in majorca
The high-rises of Magaluf

‘That’s it?’ I said. ‘That’s what all the fuss is about?’

Jonny laughed. ‘That’s why it’s good to come up here,’ he said. ‘It’s just tiny compared to the rest of the island.’ Continue reading My island adventure: discovering Majorca by helicopter, road and £1.5 million luxury yacht