Author: C.C.

The Mash Inn: An English Natural Paradise

What should I expect?

The aim of owner Nick Mash in taking over the 18th-century Three Horseshoes was to give a new lease of life to the place, and revolutionise the very idea of a village inn in the process. You’ll find all the necessary accoutrements of a perfect country pub in the bar. Tradition well and truly breaks down beyond that, with the restaurant featuring modern Scandinavian-style furnishings, including a large communal table, and a fully open kitchen. Diners are welcome to wander into the kitchen and chat with chef Jon Parry as he does wondrous things to local produce cooked over the fire.

What’s my room like?

The five bedrooms above the pub and restaurant feature a clean design of bleached wood and muted greys, enlivened with details of the pub’s signature motif, the pineapple. Roberts radios, organic Swedish toiletries and Hypnos mattresses take comfort levels to ‘supreme’. Room 2 is a winner, with slipper bath, super-king-size bed and views out over fields and hills.

The Mash Inn

The Mash Inn

What am I eating?

An ambitious tasting menu is the main attraction here, with nine dishes emerging one by one from Jon’s kitchen with a high sense of excited anticipation. The menu changes according to what’s in season, but diners can expect such unusual and accomplished dishes as game doughnuts with Berkswell cheese and scallops served in the shell. It’s worth staying a second night to sample dishes from the a la carte menu – the rib of beef, charred by the flames of the open fire, was the best we’d had in a very longtime.

What’s in the neighbourhood?

There are plenty of options for countryside and village ambles from the doorstep of the Mash Inn. A 10-minute drive away are the Hell-Fire Caves, allegedly home to meetings of the Hell-Fire Club, a notoriously debauched high-society dub established in 1718.

San Juan, Puerto Rico: The Relaxing Blue Sky

For anyone craving a blissful tropical beach as spring showers land on Britain’s shores, San Juan’s Playa Isla Verde provides the perfect fix. After an eight-hour flight to the Puerto Rican capital from the UK, and a five-minute cab ride, visitors can find themselves standing on one of the most exquisite beaches in the Caribbean, luggage in hand.

san-juan-puerto-rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

A mile-long crescent of sand backed by hammock-strung palms and tall apartment blocks, PIaya Isla Verde ranks in the premier league of urban beaches, alongside Florida’s Miami Beach and Rio’s Copacabana -though the town beyond it is just as beguiling. Shake the sand from your sandals before storming the ramparts of San Juan’s 16th-century fortress – one of the oldest European structures in the Americas. Further beyond, get lost by wandering cobble stoned streets among the colonial townhouses and cafes of the old town, noisy with the rhythms of salsa after dark.

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia: Amazing Place Covered In Impressive History

The Adriatic coastline of Croatia is contorted into so many bays and deeply gouged inlets, and laced with such a multitude of islands, that to explore it all would surely take a lifetime. A week can only offer a taster, but with a self-guided walking holiday, the landscape comes alive. Responsible Travel’s seven-night trip takes in the southernmost stretch of the country – that part of the historic province of Dalmatia that’s centred around Dubrovnik.

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

Dalmatian Coast, Croatia

The walled city features in the itinerary, but the real focus is on its hinterland and satellite islands. The first day’s walking is spent in the valley of Konavle, among vineyards and old water mills. Later in the week, hikers take the ferry to the islands of Lopud and Mljet, to join looping trails past sandy beaches, Roman ruins, pine forests and medieval monasteries.

New Lovely Views From New York

Brooklyn has a new waterfront district that is chasing Williamsburg in the cool stakes. Enjoying the borough’s best views of the Statue of Liberty from its piers and ports, formerly industrial Red Hook has cleaned up its act in the past decade. Now the neighbourhood’s historic warehouses are packed with galleries and artisanal businesses. These include Widow Jane, a distillery making whiskey from water drawn from the same limestone quarry used for Lady Liberty’s pedestal. Also open for tastings, the nearby Red Hook Winery has a selection of reds and whites from Long Island and upstate New York.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

To complete the locavore epicurean experience, Brooklyn Crab is well worth a visit. This waterfront restaurant serves Atlantic coast seafood in a variety of styles representing the Big Apple’s diverse food scene, from fish tacos, shrimp po’ boys and scallop ceviche to simple pick-and-eat-’em king crab claws. The eatery re ally comes into its own in spring, when the backyard with its mini golf course reopens and the rooftop picnic tables offer fine panoramas of New York Harbor.

Devon, England: The Place That Makes You Travel In Time

Out-of-season Devon is an enchanting place, with mists swirling, and woodlands preparing to unfurl new leaves and blooms. Langdon Court Hotel is a good base for an early spring break. The graceful manor house has a distinguished history. Henry VIII’s last wife Catherine Parr was given the property after the previous holder of the title lost her head. Edward VII was a regular visitor, accompanied by the actress Lillie Langtry.

devon-england

Devon, England

Fast-forward to 2017, and mere subjects can also enjoy fine views across its green hills and gardens. Bedrooms are individually furnished in pale colours and elegant fabrics, and imaginative meals in the salon use local produce, including lemon sole and venison. It’s a 20-minute stroll to Wembury’s beach, where a spot of rock pooling is essential and, beyond it, the South West Coast Path leads to the pretty coastal villages of Heybrook Bay and Noss Mayo.

Life Is A Cabaret Through The Eyes Of Europe

Live At Zedel, London – Keeping up Soho’s reputation for late-night adult entertainment, The Crazy Coqs hosts a range of nightly acts in its original Art Deco hall. Its latest, innovative programme includes jazz vocalists, illusionists and comedians, alongside showgirls and drag artists. Classic cocktails, such as gin fizz, add to the period ambience.

Live-At-Zedel

Live At Zedel, London

Au Lapin Agile, Paris – Immortalised in Toulouse-Lautrec posters and Picasso paintings, Au Lapin Agile has been the grande dame of the Paris cabaret scene for more than a century. Don’t expect can-can dancers though – a night at this Montmartre institution means traditional French songs accompanied by piano or the wistful lilt of an accordion.

Kleine Nachtrevue, Berlin – Recapturing the hedonistic atmosphere of ’20s Berlin, the Kleine Nachtrevue has been used as a location for many films. This intimate theatre specialises in burlesque shows featuring dark humour, acrobatics and liberal amounts of nudity. A bar and dancefloor lets the good times continue after the performance.

Isle Of Harris: Scottish Paradise Out Of This World

Only an hour’s flight from Glasgow, the Isle of Harris nevertheless feels like the ends of the Earth. Part of the Outer Hebrides, an island chain sitting like a jaunty cap off Scotland’s west coast, Harris has an almost lunar landscape, with rugged mountains, boulder-strewn moors peppered with lochs, and a distinct absence of trees. March sees the island start to emerge from its winter cocoon, with gorse and clover creating a rich tapestry of colour that seems to mirror its most famous export, Harris tweed. The magic of the isle is best appreciated from the Borve Lodge Estate, in the southwest.

Isle Of Harris

Isle Of Harris

The main lodge is available for large groups, but those visiting a deux can book into The Rock House or The Broch, two properties that overlook a white-sand beach and the island of Taransay, of Castaway 2000 fame. The inspiration for the buildings was taken from dwellings that were scattered across the Scottish coastline during the Iron Age. Rough-cut local stones form the walls, and the roofs are crowned in turf, each cabin as comfortable in the landscape as an ancient ruin. Smart interiors include floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing uninterrupted views of the Atlantic, adding to that glorious sense of other-worldly isolation.

Bath, England: Feel The Joy Of A Nostalgically Amazing Spring

The weekend destination of choice since thermal waters were discovered beneath it in 863 BC, Bath now offers a new reason to visit: recently opened No 15 Great Pulteney, Housed across three Grade I-listed Georgian townhouses on one of the city’s most elegant Neoclassical streets, the hotel houses a world of surprises beyond its front door.

Bath, England

Bath, England

Each room is unique, and features such intriguing details as coffee machines hiding in dolls’ houses, giant bespoke murals, and curious collections galore – from antique whisks to tiny shoes, paperweights to military tunics. After a day wandering Bath’s streets – and visiting the Roman baths that made it famous – return to the hotel to warm up by the fire with afternoon tea, or with an inventive cocktail from on-site Bar 15.

Florida’s Secret Side Is Out Of This Planet

Family fun – Attraction Tickets Direct is one of the UK’s leading at traction ticket providers and is offering an out-of-this-world holiday to Florida. The winning family of four will be entitled to VIP tickets to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and the chance to meet veteran NASA astronauts such as Brian Duffy, who has flown on four space shuttle missions and visited the International Space Station.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center

Sky’s the limit – Kennedy Space Center is more interactive than a museum, more inspirational than a science centre and more educational than a theme park. It offers an insight into space travel where you can walk among giant rockets, tour rocket launch areas, train in spaceflight simulators, touch a piece of the moon, and feel the full-on g-forces of a space shuttle launch. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located around 45 minutes from Orlando, the fun capital of the world with an abundance of activities for the whole family.

Ikos Olivia, Greece

WHAT: October half-term can be dark and gloomy — the days arc; getting shorter and colder and there are fewer opportunities to get the kids outdoors to burn off energy. So, what could be better than a five-night trip to Greece for some sun, swimming and, of course, a kids’ club. The Ikos Olivia resort is making a bit of a name for itself by claiming to have ripped up the all-inclusive rulebook. From the chauffeur pick-up at the airport to the rooms, food and facilities, everything is included and it’s all top quality. There are five restaurants on site serving up menus created by Michelin-starred chefs — four (Asian, Italian, Greek and French) offer a la carte menus. The other offers a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner but it’s not the usual spread. Here, you’ll find a huge rang; of goodies, from pancakes at breakfast, Greek salads and pulied pork for lunch to Moussaka at dinner — all delicious. And if you grow tired of all these opt ions, you can even swap your meal at the resort for one at a local taverna. Alcohol is also included at no extra cost.

Ikos Olivia

Ikos Olivia

Then there’s the 24/7 room service; mini-bar (topped up daily); kids’ club run by Brits, sporting activities, including non-motorised watersports, football, basketball, tennis and beach volleyball; plus nightly entertainment. Other touches include being able to leave your kids for half an hour on the beach with qualified staff so you can go fora swim; all-day snacks laid on at the restaurants; and an in-room Nespresso machine. Apart from the last day, the weather wasn’t great, but being typically British we sat by the pool in jeans and jumpers and watched our kids slowly turn blue as they jumped in and out of the water with friends they’d made at kids’ club. Then we huddled under towels on the beach so the kids could build a sand city, before taking to the football pitch to warm up. But sunshine or not, Ikos has really provided with the Olivia and it’s going to be hard to go back to anything else.

WHY: The all-inclusive experience really does live up to the hype.

SUITS: All ages — there’s a creche for babies 4 months-plus (costs extra), kids’ club for4-lls and one for ages 12 and over.

DID IT WORK? Despite the bad weather, we all loved it: the great food, our beautiful room, the beach setting and the facilities. There’s also a lovely spa — treatments cost extra but adults can use the indoor pool whenever they like.