Basingstoke, Hampshire (review published 2010)

You know the scene, it’s Friday afternoon and friends at work start asking what you’ve got planned for the weekend. ‘’I’m off to Basingstoke,’’ I excitedly revealed. Eyebrows were raised. Basingstoke? Really? Why? Was I visiting relatives? Did I have a wedding to attend? Had I simply lost my marbles? The north Hampshire town, I…

London (review published 2010)

With just months until my 40th birthday, I was on the look-out for a good midlife crisis to strike fear into my wife. Should I buy a sports car? No, I haven’t the money. Should I take up an extreme sport? No, I haven’t the bottle. Should I have an affair with a much younger…

Edinburgh, Scotland (review published 2009)

There was a time when people starved to death in the dungeons of medieval castles. But there’s no fear of that ever happening again at Dalhousie Castle, a magnificent 13th century fortress near Edinburgh. In 1972, the castle was converted into a romantic hotel and its stone, barrell-vaulted dungeon is now a restaurant with two…

Sintra, Portugal (review published 2008)

There’s a romantic castle in Bavaria which prides itself on being the main inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland, California. The fantastical turrets of the hilltop Neuschwanstein Castle, begun by King Ludwig II in 1869, has made it the most photographed building in Germany. But what inspired the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty’s Castle?…

Bath, Somerset (review published 2008)

Beautiful Bath is justifiably famous for its Roman and Georgian heritage. The Royal Crescent, The Circus and Pulteney Bridge are among the architectural treasures which have made the entire city centre a World Heritage Site. But my visit on a mid-March weekend wasn’t about sightseeing. I was there to take part in the annual Bath…

Bruges, Belgium (review published 2008)

Like many people, I’m a little addicted to chocolate. But until recently, I’d always resisted the temptation to snort it. That changed when I visited Bruges and had the pleasure of meeting Dominique Persoone, a self-styled ‘shock-olatier’ and the city’s very own Willy Wonka. Last June, he was asked to do a dessert for the…