There's a surprising variety of things to see and do in Funchal, Madeira. Here are some that you shouldn't miss.
Cherry-picking at Chegworth Valley and a visit to Yotes Court Vineyard make for a great day out.
One of the brilliant things about living in Kent, the so-called Garden of England, is the sheer abundance of locally-grown soft fruit available in the summer months – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and gooseberries, as well as stone fruits such as plums and cherries. In autumn, Kentish orchards are bursting with apples and pears and the local vineyards are producing a rich crop of grapes.
One of the loveliest walks in Kent takes you through the beautiful village of Shoreham to the lavender fields at Castle Farm in the Darent Valley. The ideal month to do this walk is July when the lavender is in full bloom and there’s a sea of vivid purple in the valley.
Most people will probably arrive in Shoreham by car, but the village is very accessible by train as well. Shoreham Station is only 200 yards or so from the starting-point of this walk. The narrow lanes of Shoreham mean that it isn’t the easiest place to find parking. If you’re coming by car, my suggestion would be to park along Station Road, down the hill from Shoreham Station.
A few weeks ago a Greek friend had recommended to us Ermoupoli on the island of Syros in the Cyclades as a really nice spot to spend a few days. He said it’s more popular with Greeks than with foreign tourists and is beautiful but much less frenetic than islands like Mykonos and Santorini.
So, after a few very hot days in Athens recently, we found ourselves at the port of Piraeus looking at “Thunder,” the boat which would take us to Syros.
Thunder is operated by Fast Ferries and it’s a magnificent and very well-appointed vessel. It took us to Ermoupoli, the main port on Syros, in just over 2 hours. As the boat approached the port, there was bit of a scramble as people headed down to the lower deck to retrieve their bags, but we were soon walking off the boat and along the seafront promenade. Time to find our hotel.
I’m fortunate to live near Chartwell in Kent, the former home of Sir Winston Churchill. I’m a frequent visitor to Chartwell because…well it’s just a rather special place.
Even now, more than 50 years since his death, you can still sense Churchill’s spirit all around you whenever you visit. It’s well known that he loved the place very much, once famously remarking: “A day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.”
It’s said that when Churchill first visited Chartwell in 1921, it was the view overlooking the Weald of Kent that he fell in love with. It subsequently became his home from 1922 until his death in 1965. Churchill was a talented artist and over the years Chartwell was the source of inspiration for many of his paintings. It was also a source of solace for him during the darkest days of World War II and at other difficult times in his life.
If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I take a keen interest in the Kent vineyard scene. I recently broke ranks and slipped unnoticed across the county border into Sussex to check out the Kingscote Estate and Vineyard.
Some friends in London had organised a walking day in West Sussex last week, loosely following the bucolic route of the “Gravetye Circular” in the High Weald. The route takes you past historic houses, lakes and vineyards and through lots of natural woodland. Knowing of my interest in local vineyards they kindly invited me along. The opportunity to call in at the Kingscote Estate was not to be missed, even if it meant a 7 mile walk on a hot June day! Our walking route actually took us through Kingscote twice.
Great summer days out on the wine trail in Kent, seeking out the very best English Sparkling wines.
Autostadt in Wolfsburg is a must-see destination if you love cars.
If you're in Paris, make sure you put a visit to Marche d'Aligre on your agenda