Friday, 28 December 2012

Travel Quiz - the answers


Quiz Round 1
1: Batemans, East Sussex 2: Beddgelert, Snowdonia, Gwynedd 3: Clouds Hill, Dorset; 4: Isle of Skye 5: National Army Museum, Chelsea 6: Galloway, Southern Uplands of Scotland 7: Durham Cathedral 8: Alnwick, Northumberland 9: Eastern Fells, Lake District, Cumbria 10: Chester (racecourse) 11: Weymouth 12: Carnforth Station 13: National Railway Museum, York 14: Edinburgh Castle 15: Northampton Museum footwear collection 16: Thomasd Hardy's fictional name for Dorchester (Dorset )17: Football Museum, Manchester (Stanley Matthews' shirt) 18: Chatsworth (it's a trompe l'oeil painting): 19 Birmingham 20: Salisbury Cathedral

Quiz Round 2
1: San Francisco (I left my heart in...)2: Jerusalem 3: Kiev (The Great Gate of) 4: Casablanca (As Time Goes By) 5: Brighton (Brighton Rock....Queen) 6: Memphis; 7: Las Vegas (Viva Las Vegas...Elvis Presley) 8: London

(name of Haydn's last symphony - 104 in D Major) 9: Philadelphia (Streets of Philadelphia, Bruce Springsteen) 10 St. Louis

(St Louis Blues, by WC Handy)


Quiz Round 3
1.Detroit - Nathan that is - the Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York - from Guys and Dolls 2: Darwin - Charles who sailed on the Beagle (remember the smoking Beagles?) 3: Turin - Alan Turing without the g.

Quiz Round 4
The hidden rivers are in bold (fried eel benefits conceak two - the Dee and the Elbe):

I've long been interested in cooking, My culinary passion began gestating when Fanny Craddock bossed poor Johnny on the old cathode ray tube. Later I discovered Elizabeth David. Artistry in the kitchen I thought. From her I got the bug.The awe you felt leafing through French Provincial Cooking makes her a muse in every sense. You can immerse yourself in her mouthwatering prose. There could be no richer well of traditional recipes. Her books still outshine all others.

I have no use for processed food. I love Black Forest ham especially for lunch if I'm pressed by deadlines to urgently return to my desktop, or need to read our constitution yet again. With it I usually eat a salad in dressing. For a quick pud I like to get a yoghurt from the fridge. As an accompaniment I defy you to find sweeter honey than that from Greece.

For main courses love to cook with fresh or wild mushrooms - I get a gust of autumn forest when I open a bag. They are great in an omelette. I always want them with spaghetti - grissini with that of course and sometime I lust after them simply fried on toast. In fact that's pretty nearly my favourite snack. They really are delicious.

Beef must be served rare. I love rib bleeding when I carve it. And of course it must be - like lamb - left to stand when removed from the oven. Rump and best end of neck are are two of the tastiest cuts.

For the dessert I often experiment. Madeleines in dustings of sugar are a speciality. I smother them in hot vanilla sauce. In another departure from the conventional I soak the sponge in iles flottante with Calvados. I like to serve sorbets in nests of spun sugar. Apples are still good for pies at this time of year butu you must weed out any that have brown marks (those bruised aren't suitable). With biscotti, berries and creme fraiche make a refreshing dessert.

After that a runny Camembert perhaps, a cheddar - notably a Montgomery - or a Stilton with which I happily put away a glass of port.

What to drink with all this? Recently I simmered monkfish in a white wine broth. Cider went well with that. I find fried eel benefits from a pinot noir but allow it the breathe. Let a little air enter the bottle before pouring.
We are lucky in the sunny UK on account of the fact that our ales go well with many dishes. With desserts try a sweet amaretto. Best of all I find a Sauterne vastly superior to a red wine with blue cheese such as Roquefort.

Food is unalloyed enjoyment. I get affable after a good meal and a glass or three (I like the wine flow yet prefer to keep a clear head) but despite my gourmet tastes I invariably eat sparingly.. To consume too much represents naked greed. Besides theres always some use for left overs. Some dishes as terrific reused. 

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Travel Quiz - Part 4


Find the hidden river names - there are at least 63 (and maybe one or two I haven't even spotted myself)

I've long been interested in cooking, My culinary passion began gestating when Fanny Craddock bossed poor Johnny on the old cathode ray tube. Later I discovered Elizabeth David. Artistry in the kitchen I thought. From her I got the bug. The awe you felt leafing through French Provincial Cooking makes her a muse in every sense. You can immerse yourself in her mouthwatering recipes. There could be no richer well of traditional recipes. Her books still outshine all others.

I have no use for processed food. I love Black Forest ham especially for lunch if I'm pressed by deadlines to urgently return to my desktop, or need to read our constitution yet again. With it I usually eat a salad in dressing. For a quick pud I like to get a yoghurt from the fridge. As an accompaniment I defy you to find sweeter honey than that from Greece.


For main courses love to cook with fresh or wild mushrooms - I get a gust of autumn forest when I open a bag. They are great in an omelette. I always want them with spaghetti - grissini with that of course and sometime I lust after them simply fried on toast. In fact that's pretty nearly my favourite snack. They really are delicious.

Beef must be served rare. I love rib bleeding when I carve it. And of course it must be - like lamb - left to stand when removed from the oven. Rump and best end of neck are are two of the tastiest cuts.

For the dessert I often experiment. Madeleines in dustings of sugar are a speciality. I smother them in hot vanilla sauce. In another departure from the conventional I soak the sponge in iles flottante with Calvados. I like to serve sorbets in nests of spun sugar. Apples are still good for pies at this time of year but you must weed out any that have brown marks (those bruised aren't suitable). With biscotti, berries and creme fraiche make a refreshing dessert.

After that a runny Camembert perhaps, a cheddar - notably a Montgomery - or a Stilton with which I happily put away a glass of port.

What to drink with all this? Recently I simmered monkfish in a white wine broth. Cider went well with that. I find fried eel benefits from a pinot noir but allow it the breathe. Let a little air enter the bottle before pouring.
We are lucky in the sunny UK on account of the fact that our ales go well with many dishes. With desserts try a sweet amaretto. Best of all I find a Sauterne vastly superior to a red wine with blue cheese such as Roquefort.

Food is unalloyed enjoyment. I get affable after a good meal and a glass or three (I like the wine flow yet prefer to keep a clear head) but despite my gourmet tastes I invariably eat sparingly.. To consume too much represents naked greed. Besides there's always some use for left overs. Some dishes as terrific reused.





Sunday, 23 December 2012

Travel Quiz - 3


Name the city that shares its name with:

1. The organiser of an old established musical card school

2: A scientist transported by a canine smoker

3: A computer pioneer without final gravity


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Travel Quiz - Part 2


The following are clues to music incorporating or closely related to place names. Can you identify the music and the places?

1: Where a vital organ was mislaid

2: Venue for an institutional jam session

3: Scene of an impressive entrance

4: Where years passed but basics endured

5: Where Jimmy met Jenny on a public holiday

6: Subject of a long distance directory

7: Where a king's chips were down

8: Where Joe wrote his last

9: Where the boss was bruised and battered

10: Chelsea's Missouri cousins

Friday, 21 December 2012

Travel Quiz - Part 1

Where in Britain would you find?
9: Swirral Edge

1; Kipling's Rolls Royce
2: The grave of Llewelyn the Great's dog
3: Lawrence of Arabia's rural retreat
4: McLeod's Maidens
5: Lord Raglan's order to the Light Brigade
6: The Awful Hand
7: Bede's tomb
8: Barter Books
10: The Roodee
11: The Nothe Fort
12: The platform for a Brief Encounter
13: The Duchess of Hamilton
14: The One O'Clock Gun
15: Prince Albert's boots
16: Casterbridge
17: A famous kit from 1953
18: A silent violin
19: Gas Street Basin
20: The best preserved, original Magna Carta

Ski Lunch of the Year


It's the season for annual awards - so here's my Top Ski Lunch of the Year - a platter of antipasti at the Refugio del Guide Cervino on the slopes above the Italian resort of Cervina: just to get you salivating as you wait for the Christmas turkey/goose/whatever.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

New Club Med ski village opens


Club Med has opened a new ski resort at Pragelato on the Italian side of the Milky Way. For the first time in the mountains the French all inclusive operator has opted for a chalet style development, converting accommodation originally used to house competitors at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. A small cable car provides access to the 450 or so kilometres of piste which comprise the Milky Way, whose clutch of connected resorts include Sestriere and Sauze d'Oulx. Guests at Pragelato can lunch at three mountain restaurants operated by Club Med, within the package price. They can ski or snowboard back to Pragelato, which lies at a fairly modest 1600 metres on a specially cut piste which winds through the forest.

See my full reports at silvertraveladvisor.com and welove2ski.com


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Alentejo - wild shores and silent landscapes




Rain swept in from the Atlantic. Ocean and sky merged behind a muslin curtain of low cloud, but the setting sun burned a hole in it, diffusing soft light, as in a Turner seascape. For diners in the little seaside resort of Azenha do Mar, in the Portuguese Alentejo region, it was dinner theatre. We watched from a window table, the spectacle diverting our attention briefly from a magnificent arroz de marisco, a rich risotto full of prawns, mussels and morsels of crab in cracked shells that gave the dish most of its powerful flavour.

Two days earlier we had paused at the same restaurant on a hike along the coast, to drink cold beers and snack on percebes, or gooseneck barnacles. Their odd appearance might deter the squeamish but, accompanied by with hot toast and butter, they seemed worth the risks taken by those who harvest them on wave pounded rocks offshore. Afterwards we had descended a steep cliff side with the help of a fixed rope to continue our walk past the former home of Portugal's most celebrated fado singer, the internationally feted Amalia Rodrigues, who died in 1999.

It seemed fitting she should have retreated here, to this wild coastline where, save in high summer when crowds from Lisbon come, you may walk for hours with only nesting storks and fishermen for company. Fado is a uniquely Portuguese expression of yearning, often about the life of the poor, and I had long nursed an image of the Alentejo as exactly the sort of place whose soul it reflected: a yellow landscape baked by fierce sunlight, dotted with black cork oaks, where arrogant and often absent landlords had paid miserable wages for labour until the 1974 revolution, when the workers rose up and seized many of their estates.

No doubt life there, even in those days, was a little more nuanced. The region has in any case changed significantly since, but not so dramatically that it is impossible to feel its recent history.


We had come to hike the newly signposted Alentejo section of the RotaVicentina long distance footpath*. British tour operators already offered holidays covering stretches of it, with baggage transfers between overnight stops, but this spring saw it completed and comprehensively signposted, making it easier to stay in one place and to dip in and out. It was pioneered by Casas Brancas, a group of enthusiastic accommodation owners and other tourism entrepreneurs whose common characteristic is individuality. The route splits into two - the Fishermen's Way running along the coast and the Historic Way swinging inland. It runs through the South West Alentejo and Vicentina Coast natural park, where new development is limited to the renovation of existing buildings. It makes for mostly moderate walking, with few uphill slogs, though some sections of the coastal path are not recommended to those suffering serious vertigo or real terror of steep drops.

The coastal route is stunningly beautiful. It dodges inland from time to time but mostly it runs along cliff edges covered, especially during spring, in such a profusion of flowers you might think yourself in a landscaped rock garden: white and pink cistus, yellow and chocolate umbrella milkwort, lavender and Hottentot fig, an invader from southern Africa. There are empty, tempting beaches, though they are often inaccessible without a tricky, time consuming scramble. Sometimes the storks, nests perched on rock stacks, were so close that it was possible, with the naked eye, to see them feeding their young.


Inland the views are less dramatic and the odds against encountering other human beings even longer. Even a guard dog which came barking at us from a farm on the way from Sao Teotonio to Odeceixe seemed surprised, rather than angry, to see us. It is hoped the footpath may help breathe new life into this landscape. Some owners who were turfed out during the revolution have returned. Others thought the task of restoring their estates too daunting. That said, extensive tracts are given over to the production of high quality cork is produced from oak bark and plantations of fast growing eucalyptus are used make paper.


We walked through a great oak forest south east of Santiago do Cacem, a sizeable town at the northern end of the Rota Vicentina, which was previously an important settlement for Romans and Moors. Each trunk bore a number to show the year in which the bark had been stripped for cork. It takes nine years before the tree is ready again for exploitation. We stopped beneath one to eat a picnic of sandwiches made from the ubiquitous and very special Alentejo bread, still baked in wood fired ovens. Its shade as welcome, for even in May the sun was fierce enough to see why shepherds here wear distinctive, short sleeved tunics to protect their backs from its heat.



Our base was the Herdade do Touril, opened ten years ago on a beef cattle farm not far from the small seaside resort of Zambujeira do Mar. It has a lovely saltwater pool. Our room gave on to an elegant little patio. The hotel provides fine breakfasts but doesn't do evening meals. This is a mixed blessing. Sometimes, after a hard day's walking, you might not feel like venturing out again to a restaurant. You regret that unless you take taxis someone will have to drive, and thus forgo the full pleasure of the Alentejo's excellent and still under exposed wines. But then you would miss out on the wonderful Tasca do Celso in Vila Nova de Milfontes, which specialises in regional specialities, where I ate superb grilled sole - or a front row seat at Azenha do Mar, where the arroz and the drama outside were intoxication enough.

(This article first appeared in Scotland on Sunday's Spectrum magazine)


How: How: Roger Bray's trip was arranged by Sunvil Discovery(http://www.sunvil.co.uk/discovery/portugal/alentejo). He flew from Heathrow to Lisbon with TAP and picked up a rental car from Guerin and spending seven nights b&b at the Herdade do Touril. The firm can also arrange holidays there with a flight to Faro, which is about an hour closer. Casas Brancas is at www.casasbrancas.pt.











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Monday, 20 August 2012

Greece - lack of joined up thinking

On Radio 4's World at One today I heard one Michael Fuchs of Germany's CDU party argue that one reason it was futile for his Government to keep bailing out the Greeks was that Greece has become uncompetitive. He pointed to  tourism to the country, noting that it was 14% down in recent months. Why does he think that is? Apart from the fact that tourism generally has been hit by a global economic downturn - and that they have no right to expect the Greeks to provide them with bargain basement holidays in any case - it has been suggested that some German holidaymakers have been avoiding Greece because they are worried they might receive a frosty reception. And why might that be? Because Berlin has been decidedly sceptical about propping up the Greek economy. I don't have any hard evidence to back this up but my my surmise is surely more credible than that of Herr Fuchs.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Better holiday protection on the way


The Government looks likely to force airlines offering hotels and car hire on their web sites to provide customers with the same financial protection as all travel companies. It is thought that this will include trips booked by clicking through from an airline web site to that of a separate company offering accommodation, for example. Airlines selling conventional package holidays must already do so under the ATOL (Air Travel Organisers Licence) umbrella. But they are not currently obliged to cover flights and hotel rooms or car rentals which are sold as separate elements. Since spring this year travel agents - whether in the High Street or operating on line - have been required to provide protection for customers booking this way. But bringing airlines into the net requires more long winded, primary legislation. The Department for Transport has now indicated that doing so is one of its preferred options for cutting back the thickets of confusion still obscuring holiday protection. The ATOL system ensures holidaymakers travelling by air get their money back if firms which organise their holidays go bust or are brought home if it happens while they are abroad. 

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cheaper Passports


The price of an adult UK passport is to be cut by £5, the Home Office has announced. From September 3 it will fall from £77.50 to £72.50. Immigration Minister Damian Green says the reduction has been made possible by efficiency savings in the Identity and Passport Service.he price of an adult UK passport is to be cut by £5, the Home Office has announced. From September 3 it will fall from £77.50 to £72.50. Immigration Minister Damian Green says the reduction has been made possible by efficiency savings in the Identity and Passport Service.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Where to walk in Germany: the Hunsruck - from forest to vineyard


The raw statistics might be enough to put you off. Some 100,000 people are estimated to hike all or some of the Saar-Hunsruck long distance trail each year and in the forests along the way there are probably at least as many wild boar.

But in five June days of mostly glorious weather we met no more than about 30 other walkers – and while up to 50 of the now pestilent animals were sighted on a main road not long after we crossed it, the closest we came to one was a delicious plate of wild boar ham when we arrive in the city of Trier.

Those with long memories may have heard of the Hunsruck. It was the setting for Heimat, Edgar Reitz's sprawling exploration of the 20th century German experience, first shown on British television in the 1980s. Schabbach, the fictional village which was home to its central character, got its name when the director spotted it on headstones in Morbach, where we begin our hike.

It was the first day of the Pfifferling season when we arrived there. Pfifferlinge are better known here by their French name, chanterelles: small, orange, trumpet shaped mushrooms. They were on the menu at our first hotel, the tranquil Landhaus am Kirschbaum, served in a wonderful ragout with dumplings. Kirschbaum means cherry tree. We would see plenty of those growing wild on the trail.

Day one dawned fresh and bright but we were warned the temperature might rise to 35C. We started on forest paths, our pace interrupted by information boards describing wildlife and the formation of a large peat bog. One listed bats including the Bechsteinfledermaus, which, I joked to my wife, must be the only species able to play the piano. She was not mightily amused. It was not long before we reached a pond with railings crossing it – for those with unsure balance - inviting us to shed boots and socks and walk across the cool our feet. How we will wish there were another, later. The trail was so clearly marked it was hard to take a wrong turning. We finished at the Hunsruckhaus, a visitor centre at the foot of the Erbeskopf which, at 2677 feet, is the region's highest point. There is no accommodation here so the Landhaus owner picked us up and took us back to his hotel.

On day two he dropped us at the Erbeskopf summit. Ski lifts lead there and a summer sled run snakes down. There are great, hazy views of the soft, rolling landscape. We walked through sun slanted forests of spruce and old beech, the canopy loud with birdsong. We tried out the curved, deck lounger style wooden benches, paid for from the European Social Fund, which are positioned at viewpoints along the way. It was hard to get out of them. 


Today's leg was supposed to be 20kms, but we were sure it was longer. The temperature soared. The shade of foliage helped - but not much. After a picnic lunch in a glossy green meadow we climbed to a ridge on what must have been an ancient trade route, since a stone cross commemorates a Tirolean trader, murdered by an unknown assailant. We summoned reserves of energy to climb the Hunnenring, the day's highlight, an immense, ten metre Celtic defensive wall of rocks built in the 4th or 5th centuries BC. It's all the more staggering when you learn it was more than twice that hight before locals, unaware of its cultural value, looted it for their own building material. We were all but staggering ourselves - and lusting for cold beer - as we reached the Parschenke Simon hotel in Nonnweiler. Our main bags, which were transferred between hotels while we hiked with light day packs, were already in our room.

Day 3 and it was 25C by 9.30am. Nonnweiler's parish church contains a curiosity: the 12th century Hubertuschlussel, or St. Hubertus's key, was heated and plunged into rabies bites, to cauterise them. For some unexplained reason the practice stopped in 1828. But the church was locked and we couldn't get in to see it. Near our destination we passsed a beaver dam. Hunting left the European beaver all but extinct towards the end of the 19th century but is had been reintroduced to two local brooks. We were struck by the modernity of houses and the lack of timber frames. Haus Doris, our hotel for the night, might not have been all that old either, but its geranium hung balconies and traditionally designed furniture gave it a long established look.

Day 4 started muggy and rainy. In the woods the thick canopy kept us dry but biting insects ambushed us. Crossing a peat bog we found more wild raspberries than we had ever seen in one spot. In the high places low cloud drifted wraith like around the trunks of towering beeches. As we traversed a high meadow a distant village emerged and disappeared again, as if behind glowing curtains. High grass dripped rainwater into my boots. At the Hotel zum Langenstein in Riveris they took them to a drying room. For dinner there was crisp skinned fried trout with waxy, boiled parsley potatoes and with it – for we were now in Moselle vineyard country – large glasses of dry Riesling. The king of grapes, saidour hostess.

Day 5 was our last on the trail. Buoyed by fresher air and intermittent sunshine we headed for our last stop– Trier. We were concerned that the final few kilometres would be on streets through the city buil up outskirts but the trail was artfully designed, leading us across fields, through trees and then along a vine covered hillside until the spires of Trier's cathedral and its Roman amphitheatre came into view below. Down the hill, a half kilometre or so past the stunning brickwork of Emperor Constantine's Baths and we emerged abruptlyfrom rural solitude, mingling with crowds and getting a taste, if not a glimpse, of the elusive wild boar.

How: Details of the trail and packages (including b&b, baggage transfer, packed lunches and transfer to your starting point if public transport isn't available) can be found at the Rhineland - Palatinate Tourist Board site: http://www.romantic-germany.info/Hiking-package-Saar-Hunsrueck-St.4276.0.html You can tailor-make your route but a seven stage tour, for example, costs €480. The most convenient way to get there is on Ryanair (http://www.ryanair.com) to Frankfurt-Hahn airport, which is a short taxi ride from out first hotel in Morbach. Local information also available from the Hunsruck Tourist Board at http://hunsruecktouristik.de.

This article was first publised by Alastair Mckenzie's Travel Lists 


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Brits unaware of new French breathalyser law


Six out of ten drivers (59%) heading for France are still unaware of a new requirement to carry breathlyzers, according to a survey by Halfords. The law, which is aimed at ensuring drivers know whether or not they are below the French limit of 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, came into force this week. That limit is already 30mg lower than the UK's. However it could be risky checking immediately after emerging from the restaurant or bar. At least one expert has warned alcohol levels can be higher around 45 minutes later than immediately after downing your last glass of wine. According to the AA the new regulation will not be enforced until November 1, when you'll be fined €11 if you're caught without at least one unused breathalyser carrying the French NF certification mark. It will have to be valid within a date range. Single use breathalyzers are usually valid for a maximum of 12 months, through you can spend more and buy a multi-use digital version. The AA is selling the former in packs of two at its shops at the port of Dover and the Ashford Channel Tunnel terminal. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Mature travellers defy downturn


Britain's silver travellers have defied the economic gloom, according to new research. Long haul travel in the 55-64 age category increased between 2008 and 2010 while the overall holiday market slumped by 9%. The over 65s are Britain's most prolific holidaymakers, with 28% of those going abroad doing so twice or more each year compared with 19% of all holidaymakers. The research was commissioned by holiday operator Travelsphere from Mintel. Surprisingly, it says the over 55s are more likely to book their whole trip on line than those under 45. Two thirds of them book via the internet. "What is clear from the research is that while current economic hardships have impacted harder on the holidaying habits of the under 45s, those over 45 still consider holidays essential. Two thirds of over 55s see holidays as necessary spend, compared to only half of 45-54 year olds and 45% of under 45s." Ian Smith, group CEO, or Travelsphere's parent company, the Page & Moy Travel Group, said: “Many of today’s older travellers have time, money and the internet at their fingertips to entice and enable. The UK’s older population is growing at the fastest rate, accounting for 17% of our population today, but is expected to rise to 23% by 2035, so older travellers will continue to dominate the tourism offering at home and abroad”.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Hire car fuel charges under fire

Fuel policies imposed by some car rental companies have come under the spotlight in a new report by Which? Travel. The magazine says its subscribers have been complaining that some firms insist they buy a tankful at exhorbitant prices when they pick up their vehicles and return with the tank empty - refusing any refind for unused fuel. Its researchers rented from several operators in Spain and found that this "full empty" policy could bump up the initial price significantly. And it argues the impact of these charges should be shown upfront at the time the booking is made so consumers can make the right choice and compare prices easily. I agree - but meanwhile it's sensible to check the rental conditions when booking. The firm's fuel policy will probably be shown in the small print. If it isn't - ring up and ask before committing yourself.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The best view in skiing?


It's a view from the piste to match the world's most spectacular. From high on the ski slopes of Le Massif, in Canada's Quebec province, you can look down on the wide St Laurence River - blue in my pic to reflect a clearing sky and strewn with ice floes. Catch it at the right time and it is stunning. Click to make it bigger.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Mont Tremblant catches the breath



This is why we skiers love the mountains. The breathcatching beauty. Well - one of the reasons. Cold temperatures have kept the trees on the upper slopes of Quebec's Mont Tremblant laden heavily with snow this week. When the sun broke through weakly the contrast of blinding white against intense blue and the views of a frozen Lac Tremblant were stunning. The skiing has been excellent at times, particularly on the resort's black diamond runs on the Versant Nord - the north side of the mountain, which is about 1hr mins by road from Montreal. But there have been hard and sometimes icy patches to catch out the unwary. New snowfall has threatened, but storms have not set in, yielding instead a few frustrating flurries which have left a centimetre or two of snow in the village and on the pistes.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Brits ignorant of EU emergency number

Surprising ignorance of the telelephone number to dial in emergency in the EU is revealed by new research. The European Commission found that only 13% of UK travellers knew to call 112. It's a free call and the same number works alongside nationals numbers, such as Britain's 999, in every European state. Available 24hrs reaches police, the fire and ambulance services, mountain rescue and coastguard. The Commission announced that British Airways, easyJet and other major transport providers across Europe have agreed to join an awareness campaign.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

New holiday protection in force this spring

New protection to ensure consumers are not left out of pocket or stranded abroad when travel companies go bust will come into force on April 30, the Government has confirmed. The so called Flight Plus rules are designed to reduce confusion among travellers over whether or not they are protected. They reflect the trend towards DIY holiday arrangements – piecing together flights, accommodation and maybe car hire to tailor make a package, rather than booking one straight from a tour operator's brochure. The Department for Transport has decided that if you request a flight booking and go back to a travel agent by close of play the following day to add a hotel or rental car, that will constitute a package for the purposes of the law. The rule will apply whether you book through a High Street agent or an on line travel agency. It ensures you are covered by the same safety net provided under the exisiting ATOL (air travel organisers' licence) scheme – so you get your money back if a firm goes under before you depart on holiday and you are brought home if it happens while you're away.