Category Archives: Travel articles

Why you’re never too old to visit Las Vegas

Las Vegas holiday
The Bellagio hotel and casino – our home for the next seven days

Just a few days in Sin City brought about a miraculous transformation in my mother. For several weeks before our Las Vegas holiday, her main activity had been fretting about what to bring.

“Shall I take an umbrella?” she’d asked. I explained the temperature in May should be a balmy 40 degrees. She wasn’t convinced. “How about a mac then?”

Now, after just 48 hours in Vegas, she seemed an entirely different person. She got up from her sun lounger and said: ‘Right, I’m off to gamble and to have a gin and tonic. Can I borrow a hundred dollars?’

It was 10.30am. My 68-year old mother rarely drank and her total gambling experience had been the penny-in-the-slots at the seaside as a child. What had I started? Continue reading Why you’re never too old to visit Las Vegas

True grit: A first-time skier braves a British Military Fitness ski trip in Courchevel

bmf holiday
A bunch of rather nervous newbie skiers try to stay upright, at least for the photograph…

Being escorted off the mountain-side by a French hunk on a snowmobile was not the way I had imagined the end of my first ever day of skiing, but it was certainly exhilarating.

I clung to him for dear life as we plunged and soared across the slopes checking for other waifs and strays as the sky darkened. When he deposited me back to level ground my knees were trembling like a Mills and Boon heroine.

bmf holiday
My mountain rescuer, John-Paul

Why had I not realised before that skiing would be so exciting?A combination of cost, inclination and complete ignorance about anything to do with skiing meant that I’d reached my late 30s without ever been bitten by the ski bug.

Various friends and colleagues would emerge from trips to France, Italy and further afield with tales of black runs and the mysterious ‘après’ but it was a completely alien world to me. Continue reading True grit: A first-time skier braves a British Military Fitness ski trip in Courchevel

So it’s a bar – which doesn’t sell alcohol. Can this be a good thing?

redemption bar notting hill

Visitors to Redemption, tucked away in the unfashionable corner of London between Westbourne Park and Ladbroke Grove, first have to walk past an array of Notting Hill’s pubs and wine bars, packed with Bright Young Things knocking back the very latest in alcohol trends, from finely-crafted cocktails to locally-distilled artisan gin.

Those who ignore such delights and cross the bridge over the railway tracks, find themselves in a different world altogether – low rise seventies-style flats overlooking a row of extremely untrendy shops; a bookmakers, a kebab shop and in the middle, Redemption.

It is almost empty when I arrive at 6.30 on a Saturday evening, but within the hour every one of its five or so tables is occupied, by couples and groups of friends, and the two-strong waiting staff are cheerfully rushing around with orders. Continue reading So it’s a bar – which doesn’t sell alcohol. Can this be a good thing?

Dryathlon or Dry January: worth trying once

drythlon worth trying

My friends in the drinks industry won’t thank me, but I’ve joined the growing ranks of those who have sworn off booze for January.

Swearing seems to be the appropriate word too, as it’s what I’ve felt like doing every one of the 20 or so times during the last two – is it only two?! – days when I’ve remembered what it is I can’t have anymore.

There are many reasons not to do it, namely that drinking in moderation isn’t necessarily bad for you and can even be beneficial, or that it’s better to have a couple of alcohol-free days every week throughout the year rather than go cold turkey for a month and then go bonkers in bars for the rest of 2014.

What attracted me to the idea in the first place was, like with most people, the thought of the weight I’d lose and the money I’d save, both typical but perfectly laudable New Year’s resolutions.

But the main thing that tipped me over the edge onto a month of total and utter sobriety was my reaction to the prospect, the closer it became. Continue reading Dryathlon or Dry January: worth trying once