A very merry Mickey

Published in Travel Weekly on 25th November 2021

Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!” Santa’s familiar greeting booms out from nowhere,
taking me by surprise. I had just arrived on Main Street, USA, the first destination as you enter Disneyland Paris. And even though Christmas trees and decorations are everywhere, the fact that it’s daytime in mid-November, with fairly mild weather, means the experience is a little more confusing than anything else.

But it doesn’t take long to get into the Christmas spirit – this is the holiday season at Disneyland Paris, after all. Indeed, a light flutter of ‘snow’ appears as if on cue – as it does at least 12 times a day here – and the already excitable children around me start jumping up and down with their hands in the air.

Overhead, fairy lights are twinkling against the shiny baubles on Mickey-shaped garlands all the way from City Hall, where a 24-metre-tall Christmas fir takes pride of place, to Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

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SCUBA OOO! Learn how to scuba dive among the unspoilt Red Sea reefs around Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh

Published in The Sun on 16th October 2021

Also published on The Sun digital

DRIFTING through a curtain of bubbles, I spot the Yolanda Reef for the very first time.

The majestic coral cliff is a scene of vibrant orange creatures, green plants and fluorescent yellow bannerfish, which loop around the rocks oblivious to my presence.

I’d only tried diving for the first time just a few days earlier and I’m now inside what feels like the world’s largest tropical aquarium, Ras Mohammed National Park, just outside the resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.

Read more at The Sun digital

Hidden Britain: day trips without the crowds in the Cotswolds

Published on The Times on 18th July 2020:

Malmesbury, Wiltshire

Jostling for space is quite the norm in the Cotswolds. But Malmesbury, a modest market town between Cirencester and Chippenham, has somehow escaped that plight — a surprise given its rich history as England’s oldest borough.

Athelstan, the first king of all England; the philosopher Thomas Hobbes; and the historian William of Malmesbury have all called this honey-coloured town home. So did Eilmer, the Benedictine monk who strapped on a pair of wings and leapt off the church tower in an 11th-century foray into aviation — although unlike Icarus before him, the amateur aviator did live to tell the tale.

Read more at The Times

KIHNU BELIEVE IT? Inside Kihnu, the secret island off Estonia that is run by women

Published in The Sun on 8th March 2020

Also published on The Sun digital

BOUNCING down the gravel forest track in the back of an open top Soviet truck, I was sure the old banger was about to give out. Not that I was worried.

My driver and guide, Mare Matas, could have an engine fixed up and running no time — the women of Kihnu Island in Estonia are handy like that.

From farming to seal hunting, the ladies in this traditional community do all the tough jobs.

Read more at The Sun digital