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Kent: Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway

Lysander Tyler-Green

This miniature Railway, shuttling out from Dymchurch is fantastic. You can chug your way, open air, all the way to Dungeness – Britain’s only shingle desert. You can even load up your bikes on to the train if you want to combine as part of a cycle trip.

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Kent: harbour street tapas, Whitstable

James Pembroke

Whitstable is fast becoming Britain’s answer to Martha’s Vineyard. The town is pumping. The tapas here was consistently better than any I have had in Spain, especially the tortilla, which sits around for months in Madrid. And the wine was as cheap and uplifting as the food.

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Kent: Canterbury Hop Hoodening day festival, early September every year

Annabel Sampson

What better way to spend a Saturday than merrymaking in Canterbury Cathedral in celebration of the hop harvest? The annual Hop Hoodening is the Kentish harvest festival and into its seventieth year. Morris dancers meet with a hooden horse and jig before the altar as hymns are sung.

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jimbob art – bears, badgers and skunks

Lucy Blanchette

Pencil illustrations of rabbits, moles and woodland creatures abound with cheer. Jimbob creates ceramic objects with hand-painted detail, such as greedy moles enquiring, ‘Are we having pancakes?’ and a peckish racoon snacking on Ladurée: ‘Mr Racoon loves a Macaroon!’ And in such charming settings. 

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Tackle! - By Jilly Cooper

Harry Mount

The ever-effervescent Jilly Cooper has a new book coming out – or so we’re promised. It has a predictably jaunty title, following the provocative lineage of her former works with names such as Mount! and Appassionata. At the Oldie of the Year awards she was drawn to Tony Blackburn, so maybe he’ll make a cameo appearance under a pseudonym?

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ITALY: Villa Necchi Campiglio, Milan

Genevieve Delacroix

Villa Necchi Campiglio was designed as a ‘country’ villa in the centre of Milan in the 1930s by architect Piero Portaluppi. It was commissioned without a budget by the sisters Nedda and Gigina Necchi and Angelo Campiglio, the husband of Gigina. 

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ITALY: Trieste: The Grand Hotel Duchi D'Aosta

James Pembroke

The Grand Hotel Duchi D’Aosta is situated on Trieste’s most famous square, the Piazza della Unita D’Italia. Harry's Grill is the place to people watch. It has its own thermarium in the vaults and is an absolute bargain. Rooms are around 150 euros a night.

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ITALY: the first church, aquileia

James Pembroke

Aquileia is situated between Venice and Trieste. Construction started on the basilica, not long after Constantine abolished the persecution of Christians with the edict of Milan in 313AD. At 760 square metres, the original floor is the largest Paleo-Christian mosaic in the Western World, and only came to light in the early 20th Century. It’s wondrous!

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ITALY: Perugia: Hotel Brufani

Arthur Nottle

Established in 1884, this is the bargain hotel of Umbria. Just €120 for a double with fantastic views of the Umbrian hills. Set high in the centro storico, it is close to all the main sites. Have dinner next door at La Rosetta. 

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ITALY: Momi restaurant in Blevio, Lake Como

Ruby Scott

This may not be the easiest spot to reach, but it’s certainly worth it. The evening we visited it was full to the brim, so it’s worth calling in advance to make a reservation. Fantastic views of the Villa d’Este across the water. Sit beneath twinkling fairy lights. The sautéed lobster and octopus is the dish to order. We got complementary puddings.

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ITALY: Lunch at the Hotel Florence in Bellagio, Lake Como

Ruby Scott

Without doubt the most beautiful lakeside lunch spot in Bellagio. The pinky tablecloths match the rosé wine, and you sit beneath vines of purple wisteria. The burrata was the best we’d had all holiday. Delicious risotto, salads and exceptional service. We left a hearty tip.

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ITALY: Lido di Faggeto, Lake Como

Genevieve Delacroix

You can’t just swim in the lake – you need to visit a lido. I’d highly recommend the Lido di Faggeto. It had an idyllic lakeside bar, serving generous cocktails, and a hearty lunch. Sit on the comfortable sunbeds and take a dip in the chilly lake. Not too busy and perfectly sunny mid-April. Make Lake Como a stop for relaxation after frenetic Milan.

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ITALY: Hotel Vapore, Torno, Lake Como

Arthur Nottle

Lovely lakeside restaurant. The candles light up the lake. Delicious wine, exceptional service and peaceful ambiance. The ‘lake fish’ is an obvious choice.

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ITALY: Dimora Storica Don Totu, Puglia

Fiona Duncan

A small palazzo, full of airy courtyards and terraces, natural pietra leccese stone and olive and lemon trees. Walk through a narrow passage and find yourself in a lovely garden with a spectacular pool and pool house, filled with artworks and chandeliers from the Biltmore Hotel in Miami.

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ITALY: Bologna: The Church of Santa Maria della Vita

Mary Canon-Belle

The Church of Santa Maria della Vita in Bologna is tucked away in the Via Clevature, a short distance from the Piazza Maggiore. 

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ITALY: Amalfi Coast: Hotel Santa Caterina

Fiona Duncan

A kiss on the hand from the doorman; a spot-on joke from the head waiter; names remembered by all. Add to that the best seaside set-up on the coast, with a stay-all-day beach club strictly reserved for hotel guests, and you have a hotel one longs to return to.

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ITALY: Airbnb in Torno, Lake Como

Jonathan Finchley

Lake Como was, honestly, the perfect spot. You can enjoy aperitivo each evening as the sun sets across the water. A lovely garden overrun with daisies also catches the morning sunlight. Five-minute walk from Torno town with its sleepy fishing village and lakeside restaurant Vapore. 

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Irongran – for oldies who want to keep exercising

Nigel Summerley

Edwina Brocklesby, 75, is the oldest British woman to have completed an Ironman triathlon. Her new book, Irongran (Little Brown, £14.99), details how she did it. And the refreshing thing is that she makes it brutally clear that the older you get, the tougher it is to keep running, cycling and swimming.

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IRELAND: science and greenery at birr castle, county offaly

Ruby Scott

‘A green jewel of world renown’ proclaims Eliana Ferioli of The Great Gardens of Europe. Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre is rich in amazing feats of science and engineering as well as rare trees and flowers, wildlife, waterfalls and walks along peaceful rivers and the lake. Created over generations, it is an environmental and scientific time capsule.

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Invernesshire: Iain Marr Antiques, Beauly

Ferdie Rous

This cosy antiques shop on Beauly’s pleasantly green high street has a brilliantly kept collection of antiques and traditional highland kit. The objects range from beautifully made badger-fur sporrans to old coins and the occasional claymore. Whether you go for a browse – or a chat with Mr Marr himself – it is well worth the time.

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inside poetry – voices from prison, a new collection of 250 poems

Harry Mount

Poetry is soothing to the soul, particularly when you’re inside prison. That’s the inspiration for this new collection of poems composed by 206 prisoners, prisoners’ loved ones and prison staff. Deeply moving; these poems originally appeared in Inside Time, the monthly national newspaper for prisoners.

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Indian Cookery Book – Fresh India by Meera Sodha

Ruby Scott

This book is brimming with delicious vegetarian ideas. Perfect for family suppers or entertaining on the cheap. Buy lots of veggies, then this book will suggest how to invigorate them with flavours of the South. Aubergine and pea curry, roasted cauliflower korma, wild mushroom upma... every dish comes out as colourful as the front cover.

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i never knew that about england by christopher winn

ANDREW ALLISON

According to the front cover blurb "A marvellously entertaining and instructive read.." and it's true! Take this pint sized book away with you,  on your travels around Blighty and you will not be disappointed.

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how to remove chewing gum from clothes

Annabel Sampson

Apply the hair spray directly onto the chewing gum and it will harden. Then just scrape the chewing gum off. Soak the garment in hot vinegar, then brush or scrape the gum off gently with a blunt tool to avoid damaging the fabric.

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Herefordshire: pant hall gardens

David Wheeler

Here, battling against occasionally malign forces – fog, rain, snow, frost, deer, squirrels, rabbits – Malcolm Temple, at an age when most men seek little more than a newspaper and a comfortable armchair, is fashioning an ambitious garden on six steeply sloping acres. The garden is open by appointment to groups of fifteen or more.

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