Holiday Farm and B&B
Because it gives you a glimpse at the perfect life!
Paolo and Paola are the best hosts, the olive trees are magnificent and the wine from the vineyard is superb. We went for the Easter weekend and were astonished by the hospitality; we had the most amazing Easter breakfast and traditional Pranzo meal before we left. I went to visit an olive tree that had been adopted for me and arrived to find a bottle of the farm's wine waiting for us to enjoy at the base of it's trunk - by far the best setting to enjoy a bottle!
This tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean has commanded the attention of invaders for centuries. Romans, Turks, Knights and even the British have all had a foothold on Malta’s shores at one time or another.
Now invaders of a different kind flock to Malta - tourists!
Drawn by the year round warm weather, the fact that most of the islanders speak English and drive on the left (after a fashion), Malta is a haven for the British sun worshipper.
But, there is so much more to do here. Despite the arrival of the 5 star luxury resorts, it remains a living slice of history. Famous for its two sieges, the first in 1565 when Soleyman the Magnificent was resoundingly beaten by The Hospitallers (or Knights of St. John).
The second came during World War II when again, the Maltese and their Allies drove off the German attempt to capture the island. History faces you on every corner, making the capital city Valletta a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Maltese are a friendly enough people, if a little gruff. They do seem to welcome the British more readily than any of the other visitors that descend on their shores annually. The attractions are obvious and the new resorts on the island are springing up continually.
Five star recommendations include,The Portomaso Hilton, Dragonara Palace and The Corinthian. There are plenty more, however, including some wonderful boutique hotels.
Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island is an altogether quieter neighbour. The hotels here are smaller and more Spa orientated. Well worth a visit.
If you have the time, why not take a day trip to Sicily? There is a catamaran that visits daily or why not travel in style and use the helicopter service?
Maltese restaurants are doing their best in a world where fine dining is king. While they still have a lot to learn, fish is where they excel. Also, local specialties are worth trying. Hobz biz-zejt with fresh Maltese bread, tomatoes, olive oil and (depending on the maker) capers, olives, tuna and salt and pepper. The cheesecakes (savoury rather than sweet) stuffed with ricotta cheese are delicious whilst the cannolli from the Busy Bee bakery are stunning. The bread too is a wonderful treat.
Being the jewel of the Mediterranean, don’t forget the beaches. The only sandy ones are in the north of the island. The rest of Malta is rocky outcrops straight into deep water. No children here!
Snorkelling along these shores is a must as is a visit to the Blue Grotto. So called because of the turquoise blue of its waters and because it’s a erm...Grotto. Other attractions include Malta Glass, a visit to Comino and the capital Valletta. Malta has survived the centuries relatively unscathed by foreign invaders though all have left their mark. After visiting Malta yourself will it have left its mark on you?
It's an organic farm run on an ethical basis that also does agitourisme. It's beautifully situated in the Drome valley in the pre-Alps and parts of the farm house date back hundreds of years. We had a wonderful family holiday years ago and our daughter has since returned to work and holiday there. The people who run it are great and will collect you from the local station. Eurostar to Lille, TGV to Valence, local train to Luc - it's a lovely journey. English, French and I think are German spoken.
Another outstanding find in one of our inner city suburbs is Olives. Situated in the busy strip of Martin St (highway end) Olives was a great place for us to have a family dinner for Mothers Day last Sunday.
Olives' menu gave us a large number of choices for dinner, with most of the menu seafood/mediterranean based. Us meat eaters (and vegetarians) are also well catered for with special menu offerings.
A reasonably priced wine and drinks list is also offered for diners. Service was efficient and friendly with wait staff able to offer menu recommendations when asked. All in all, a nice evening out was had by all.
This is a totally preserved preVictorian stone and slate village around the shores of Kames Bay with a lifestyle of 50 years ago. Langoustines are caught here. Kames Castle at one end has period holiday cottages in the Estate. There is a small marina, highly eccentric ancient golfcourse, old tramtrack to Ettrick Bay - a great bit of sand with 200 seals, two pubs, fish and chips, Post Office/shop, a Petanque piste and a Russian Tavern run by Russians serving Russian specialities and Russian beers, wines and vodkas. They have four guestrooms too.
The scenery of seascapes, mountains, forest and islands is simply spectacular. Curlews, oyster-catchers and seals share the beach while wild deer graze the golfcourse. This is a very peculiar place to find in the UK!
Ferry to the Isle of Bute from Wemyss Bay (pronounced "weems") on the A78 between Greenock and Largs at the mouth of the River Clyde. Trains direct to Wemyss Bay from Glasgow and either Glasgow Airport. Ferry every 45 minutes, ferry time 35 minutes.
You probably have not heard about Ai Casali, but that’s only because its one of Friuli’s best-kept secrets. Nestled in the foothills of the Julian Alps, surrounded by forest, vineyards and cornfields, you get a feeling of seclusion and isolation. The rooms are light, airy, rustic and modern and breakfast sets you up for a days relaxation, be it by the pool or using the wellness area. The town of Cividale is a two mile walk away with restaurants and bars serving delicious Italian and Friulian food and wine (made from local ingredients that taste as they were meant to). You feel like you are a million miles away, however, as you sit by the pool or drink in the views from your balcony. Just don’t tell everyone how good it is!
Via Guspergo 17/3
33043 Cividale del Friuli - UD - Italy
It's the real deal: a gorgeous place with endlessly enthusiastic hosts in the middle of an organic lemon grove looking straight out to Capri. Aldo's the farmer, all round lovely guy, and the man who bakes you your fresh bread for breakfast from one of the ovens built into the wall (naturally one for pizzas) while you sit round the big beautiful table in his kitchen, and tells you everything about what he's growing, Naples, and his wife Matilde. And her funny habits. She pops up after work and on certain nights can cook you dinner from their local goodies, and yep, they are good, plenty of fish and home grown vegetables. And as Matilde used to run a restaurant in Sorrento, she's good at it, very good. The farmhouse is a self-restored old stone saracen watchtower with rambling extensions, and you can stay in the tower, just below the kitchen, or in a separate cottage in front with it's own lawn looking straight out to the Bay of Naples and the shimmering blue sea. There's an old fashioned plush restaurant just down the hill through the vineyards, serving divine lobster ravioli and much more. Another mile on there's the small town of Massa, or you can rejoin the crowds in Sorrento for something a bit livelier. There is splendid panoramic isolation at the Torre, but with nearby buses that head out to the pristine nature reserves of the Punta Campanella and onto the Amalfi Coast. When we left, Aldo gave us a rucksack of organic lemons and a huge grin. So recommended it's not true.
Outside Massa Lubrense, 4km from Sorrento
Situated just an hour or so drive from San Francisco, the Napa Valley is a wine and food lovers heaven. Incredible eateries and divine vineyards abound in this Californian idyll.
Napa has a vast range of wineries to choose from whether it be small and personal or the large vineyard that does escorted tours.
No trip would be complete without a visit to Yountville where Thomas Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry reigns supreme. But be warned you have to book two calendar months in advance to get in. We tried and failed miserably, so if anyone reading this can let us know about their dining experience it would be jealously appreciated.
We did, however, get a table at Keller’s Bistro also in Yountville - Bouchon and that made up in some way for our disappointment as it was superb! It is a more casual dining experience with a fun and flirty atmosphere. The menu is very much French bistro inspired with moules frites and huîtres featuring prominently. The poulet aux petit pois à la Français was simple and delicious and the braised pork cheek was declared a masterpiece. As we were celebrating birthdays, complementary signature desserts of tarte au citron and chocolate brownie ‘Bouchons’ were a welcome ending to the evening.
There are so many dining venues in Napa that you can be spoilt for choice. Local deli's with first class cheese, wine and cured meats. Fantastic breads baked on the properties with everything to go! So why not grab a picnic and take a seat in the Yountville market area. It is beautiful, with sparkling fountains and tucked away benches perfect.
If something a little more daring is your thing, then Napa Valley Aloft offer dawn balloon rides over the valley - weather permitting of course. It is incredibly serene to be floating two thousand feet over the vineyards one minute and then barely skimming the vines the next with the only noise coming from the burners used to keep us aloft. It was testament to our pilot Laura’s skill that she managed to put us down safely in a handkerchief sized field in the middle of acres of vines. A memorable experience followed by a champagne breakfast with your new found friends and fellow passengers.
There are plenty of top quality B&B's, Inn's and resort hotels to choose from for your stay. The River Terrace Inn is one of these, do choose the balcony rooms overlooking the river and take your morning coffee whilst enjoying the peace and quiet as the river gurgles by.
No trip to Napa would be complete without experiencing the Wine Train. A three hour lunch or dinner trip taking in the breathtaking vistas of the local countryside. Or, how about kayaking on the river or a trip to the Jelly Belly Gourmet bean factory? It’s not just about wine!
Napa old town has a number of mentionables too. The Oxbow Public Market has a wonderful cheese and wine tasting emporium. Run by Peter Granoff you can sit at the large bar area take a carafe of your favourite tipple and pair it with a platter of cheeses, salamis, fresh made pickles and fresh baked bread – sheer heaven. They also have Kara's Cupcakes, an Oyster bar and much more.
Pay the Bounty Hunter a visit too; it’s where the locals eat so it must be good. Speciality wines by the glass or bottle and incredible barbecued meats served at trestle tables, perfect for getting to know your neighbour.
Coles Chop House is an award winning American Steakhouse that serves some of the best Dry Aged Beef you will ever eat coupled with delicious cocktails.
There is an awful lot more to Napa then you can possibly fit in, in just a day or two. With breathtaking scenery, friendly locals and visitors alike and a diverse range of activities to suit all tastes and budgets. It is a wrench to leave this gorgeous area. They say you leave your heart in San Francisco, I left mine in Napa. I hope to return soon and claim it back.
Lu Branu is a family run agritourismo, situated in the Costa Smeralda, in an area of around 150 acres of land. The farm produces its own food and wine, which are all typical of Sardinia.
Located near the town of Arzachena and within driving distance of at least 20 idyllic beaches, I would recommend this agriturismo especially to families with small children.
The owners are extremely friendly and hospitable. Children will love the play park and tennis court, as well as getting to know the animals and birds at the farm. Parents can relax in the laidback, safe, childfriendly environment.
address - Lu Branu, Giuanneddu 07026, Arzachena, olbia-tempio.
Kibbutz Ein Gev is beautifully located on the sea of Galilee. While it does have its own hotel, many young travellers go there to work as Kibbutz volunteers. It has a strong agricultural sector, growing bananas, mangoes, dates and catching the famous St Peters fish in the depths of Lake Kinneret. Volunteers can particpate in all these endeavours. While kibbutz volunteers work hard the beauty of Ein Gev pays for itself were you can climb mount Sussita or swim in the lake and get drunk in the Kibbutz pub.
A bus usually leaves twice a day from Tiberias on the opposite side of the lake from Ein Gev. A 20 minute ride along Lake Kinnert and you are there
On a sunny spring afternoon while driving around Tuscany, we became lost and were desperate to find somewhere to stay. Just when we were about to give up and opt for a Motel, we came across "Agriturismo da Domenico" near the lovely town of Cortona.
As we parked our car, we were greeted by Domenico's family (including Granny) who welcomed us as if we were some lost relatives.
The rooms were rustic and beautifully decorated and the farmhouse something out of this world.
The evening came and we were served a wonderful dinner, full of locally grown ingredients including veal and veg accompanied by local wine and spirits.
We didn't only found a great place to stay, but we experienced the real Italy and made friends!
General festival tips
1. Music can be better appreciated from a great height. Make friends with tall men next to you in the crowd (girls and guys) so they can put you on their shoulders.
2. Try and drink spirits rather than beer if you are deadly keen on getting a decent spot in front of your favourite band. There’s nothing worse than having to leave to pee right before they make their entrance.
3. Construct a timetable of all the bands and acts you want to see before leaving home.
4. Use Spotify to check out and listen to every band playing at the festival. Chances are you’ll be madly in love with at least one band you haven’t already heard of this time next year.
I always used to take far too much food to Glastonbury. This was heavy to carry the long distance from the car park to the campsites, and only lasted a day or so. My advice is to take only enough food for the first day and then sample the fab food on offer all around. If you do need to take lots of food and drink, invest in a wheelbarrow or small trolley to help cart it from car to tent.
Finally my festival essetials: very good walking boots (they keep your feet dry, and are better than wellies), wet wipes, and a couple of bottles of water to glug after a heavy cider/Perry session at the Brothers bar. A hat and sunscreen are good to have. And don't forget to have a warm jacket, as the nights can get chilly.
all uk festivals
If you're travelling through North Devon or staying in the area, the Stag Inn is a great gastropub to stop at for dinner. It's just off the A361 and difficult to miss as it's painted egg yolk yellow with the traditional Devon thatch.
The owners have refurbished it to make it more stylish while keeping the roaring fire and ancient wooden bar and made a new dining area at the back.
The meat and veg comes from the organic farm of the owner's family and the menu is seasonal while offering all the favourites of sausage and mash, steak and chips and fish and chips.
Not the cheapest pub food but very tasty and a cut above in terms of style and atmosphere.
Stag Inn, Rackenford, Devon, EX16 8DT
I recommend taking a portable or throwaway barbeque with you to a festival. It is a great way to cook your own food outside your camp in the evening, you can choose what you eat, but - best of all - you have your own mini camp fire to sit around as it gets dark. You can have burgers or sausage in a bun at a fraction of the cost and the children love toasting marshmallows as dessert.
Any decent supermarket sells cheap portable BBQs during the Summer months. Pack a few firelighters and a box of matches.
Depending on the weather, arrive with a thermos of chilled liquid. Whenever boiling water is available, fill the thermos. Use for instant soups, noodles and other such nourishment. I can usually find some extra energy after a green tea (best made with off-boiling water anyway) and a cereal bar.
The home of craft beer in Nelson. The Free House serves ales from many local brewers (Mussel Inn, Founders, Renaissance, Twisted Hop, Monkey Wizard) in cosy and welcoming surroundings. Give the sweet fizzy stuff a rest and come and try some real beers. Food available.
95 Collingwood Street, Nelson
You've already spent around £150 on the ticket, but you can expect to easily double that by the end of the festival. Here are some tips I have picked up from experience to help you save some money:
1) Before you go, go shopping with friends, buy biscuits, crisps etc, you won't want to eat big meals and food there is always extortionate (but good, so maybe try one!) And drink, check out good deals, but again, sharing is key!
2) To get there and back, check on the festival website for coach tickets that are often cheap to encourage less carbon emissions. Or if driving, make sure every seat in the car is filled and agree to split the petrol cost equally.
3) At most festivals, there is a refundable charge for cups. Late into the night, cups can be found all over the place, pick these up and claim the refund.
4) Be extra organised, always carry toilet paper, toothpaste with you then if someone is caught short, ask for a donation.
5) Use cash - take more than you will need, or set a limit and stick to it but don't take money out on a card machine as the charges are usually high.
6) Check, double and triple check you have everything you'll need so you don't have to buy anything when you get there.
7) Befriend the neighbours- again, sharing can help save a lot of money.
8) Keep your money safe - when drunk, dirty and tired, it is so easy to lose notes - (I kept a very small bag, big enough for phone, camera and money under my jumper and didn't take it off all weekend)
9) Wait until the end, all the merchandise looks so tempting on the first day, but don't rush in. Wait until the last morning when they are trying to shift stock so will have either reduced prices or are willing to knock off a couple of pounds.
10) Check the internet for a timetable or running order before you go - you will need to know when and where your favourite bands are playing, but will end up paying £8 for a programme when you arrive if not.
The key things to remember are share, plan ahead and keep money safe.
Hope this helps and have a fantastic, festival-filled summer!
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com