How I bagged an awesome budget ski holiday in the Alps

I’ve been skiing since I was about nine years old, and so I know by now that’s there no way around it completely: skiing just ain’t cheap. That said, if you’re wily, there are ways you can book an awesome ski holiday on a more limited budget. If you’re a family and you’re careful, you can self cater in an apartment with the kids of a sofa bed, for example — but this isn’t always feasible if you’re travelling in a non-family group. In January, six of us decided we were really determined to book a skiing holiday this year.…

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Yazzing out at the Viceroy on opulent Yas Island

Blue eyed, dressed for every situation, Moving through the doorway of a nation… …is not exactly an accurate description of my appearance as I arrived at Abu Dhabi airport, but bear with me while I attempt to tenuously link my stay at a five-star hotel to a new wave band from 30 years ago. We sped down the city’s bizarrely empty highways until we reached Yas Island and the taxi driver pointed to a glowing fluorescent blob in the distance. “That is your hotel,” he said. All bleary-eyed off an eight-hour flight I squinted at the blob. “Blimey… hotel is…

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Why glamping at a festival isn’t just a cushy copout

I was put off camping in the UK at quite an early age by attending a festival many British school teachers like to refer to as the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme. Oh sure, it was fun enough the first time — we walked a bit, set up our tents, lay out on the grass in the summer sunshine eating our supernoodles and marshmallows listening to Glastonbury on a portable radio. One boy even brought a guitar and as darkness fell we all sat around the fire solemnly singing Karma Police and mulling over whether to quit school and set…

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Jesmond Dene House: Newcastle’s foodie haven

You don’t need me to tell you that Jesmond Dene House Hotel is the best place to stay in Newcastle — you could just look on TripAdvisor to find that out — but it really is a haven of subtlety and elegance and northern warmth, and it just so happens that it’s also a very special place to me as well. Let me explain. As Newcastle spreads up the hill from the river, the city falls away very quickly, making way for parks and town moors and grazing land of the kind you’d expect to find miles out of town,…

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Pigging out at the Pig in the Wall

I really do hate to squeal, but I just can’t keep a secret like this to myself. I went to the Isle of Wight Festival last weekend, and I did it the grown-up way (by ‘glamping’ — more to come on that soon). I was determined for the whole trip to be the relaxed break I really needed, and so before I took to the high seas, a civilised lunch was in order. I’m a northerner through and through, but Hampshire is by far my favourite southern county and I spent several happy summers in the New Forest when I…

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