So many visitors in the crushing crowds inching down Portobello Road completely miss the wonderful antique stalls in the rambling arcades. So go early - 8 o'clock on a Saturday morning - and enjoy the opportunity to talk unhurriedly to experts in their trade, then buy some beautiful, unusual presents for your friends or yourself. At 10 o'clock have coffee and freshly baked cakes at 'Books for Cooks' and leave the Road to the growing throng.
Portobello Road, Notting Hill, W11 www.portobelloroad.co.uk/
Google map: bit.ly/GYCQzz
Books for Cooks:
4 Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill, W11 1NN
+44(0)20 7221 1992
Google map: bit.ly/Hi7DVH
No, seriously, it can be done! The Belgian Ardennes is a beautiful region that so many people just drive by without a thought. Several towns have their own small downhill slope and there are miles of cross-country trails through the forests. While the snow is never guaranteed, when it comes it can be in prodigious quantities and of a quality that would stand up to scrutiny anywhere. Just don't expect groomed pistes, and ski early in the day before the Dutch arrive from across the border. When there's no snow, enjoy the walks on the moors (the 'Hautes Fagnes'), sampling the mineral springs, watching the wildlife and trying the local food (often the same thing).
Stay in the eponymous Spa, with its curative waters, and try Thiers des Rexhons www.skispa.be/
Route de Berinzenne - Thier des Rexhons
B- 4900 SPA
+32 90)87 77 30 28
Google map: bit.ly/yjDqA2
Or Mont des Brumes
+32 80 78 54 13
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