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since 22/11/2002


Oxford (England) 15/04/2009


Oxford (England) Since Winston Churchill 'won' the Great Britain vote(television program for best of Britain), I thought it was fitting to write about Woodstock, just outside Oxford. Since this is where he was born. PLUS you may want/need exercise... and BEER! As a transplanted North American, old enough to remember Woodstock (the FIRST time), here is a place right out of a storybook. On the way to the Cotswolds, just northwest of Oxford, and 55 miles northwest of London, is the town of Woodstock and through the arches, is Blenheim Palace with its awesome view of the Palace and the Lake. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I guarantee you will have a sharp intake of breath when you first see this view. Winston Churchill called it the most beautiful view in England. And he should know. In fact, he was born at Blenheim Palace, unexpectedly whilst his mother(an American) was visiting the Palace. And he chose to be buried in the next town, Bladon. The Palace grounds are a lovely place for a walk and picnic. Also, if you love antiques and ornateness, there are guided tours of the palace. It is open from May to September (10 or 11 am until 5 pm) and if you go in the 'Front' way it costs about 10 pounds sterling, per person, BUT do what I did, and visit the parkland, for free! You can go for a walk year round, in the grounds, even if the Palace is closed, even in the Winter. To fortify yourself for your walk, you could start with some proper Fish and Chips from the Chip ...

Alghero, Sardinia (Italy) 15/04/2009


Alghero, Sardinia (Italy) We needed sunshine and Ryan Air had VERY cheap airfares from the UK to Sardinia. Good question: where IS Sardinia (Answer: 10 miles from Corsica. And where is that? Answer: to the Left of Italy!) When we arrived, we first tried to find the bus that was to take us to the city centre (reminds me of John Lennon's nearsightedness: "What Bus?"). This is when we KNEW we had not studied the Italian language CD's enough! But everyone understood the word "taxi", so got in a queue/lined up for the next one... and waited... and waited. Finally a rather small cab turned up and we squished ourselves and luggage inside. (I had been warned that you can end up waiting ages for your luggage when you return to England on Ryan air, so opted for carry-ons only). So off we went - zoom! ZOOM! - beware the way they drive! Not long into the ride, we came upon a Dead Ducatti in the Middle of the Road (with apologies to Loudon Wainwright III)! For the uninitiated, this is a VERY expensive motorcycle - we are talking over 6,000 bucks! The driver was okay but very depressed as he had less than 20 miles on the new bike! Eventually we made it to our Hotel - the St Giuan, or San Juan, depending on your accent. This was when we understood more about Sardinia/Sardegna having more than one language as it is a mixture of Italian, Catalan, and ALL the other previous invaders. And we learned that the missing BUS would have taken us to the bus station - quite a way out of town and NOT walking ...

Saronic Gulf Islands (Greece) 12/08/2005


Saronic Gulf Islands (Greece) Agistri is only an hour from Athens and a world apart. You can leave England at noon and be there in time for supper on the terrace of the Agistri Club, overlooking the beautiful sea and the lights of Aegina only 6 minutes away! This tiny island of only 1000 people is close to Athens, but has so much to offer. You have a choice of beaches, depending on your preference. I liked the small cove next door, very private, but my fellow guests preferred the larger beach with the shallow, warm water where they could easily grab a cold beverage when the feeling hit them. It is only a short walk to/from the Agistri Club and the town of Skala. I had lunch there at Alexandra's overlooking the beach, and a short walk past the church to pick up a few cards and a new hat. I took the little bus to Limenaria for lunch, and had a wonderful omelette with chorizo sausage and cheese. The cafe owner's chickens are nearby and the eggs were that fresh! It is a short walk to Aponissos from there, where there is another Taverna for the thirsty traveller. Or you can walk the whole way from Skala to Limenaria- about 6 kms - if you would like to walk through the pines. I found the place on Matt's website - - who I have used before for island hopping - (see my review on Sifnos, too). Agistri Club is a variety of different traditonal rooms with an amazing view towards Aegina. Meals are served on the terrace and are designed by Henriette and chef Vic. She describes each dish ...

Côte d´Azur (France) 31/07/2005


Côte d´Azur (France) Cassis is a quiet peaceful village, east of the highest sea cliff in Europe, Cape Canaille. The city's motto (the SPELLING IS THEIRS TOO!!) is "Qui a vist Paris e noun Cassis a ren vist" (If you've seen Paris and not Cassis, you've seen nothing!) It is famous for Les Calanques which are limestone cliffs and sheltered coves with turquoise water - as if the White Cliffs of Dover were transported to the Med. Just what I needed after a week of Avignon sightseeing and Nice and it's crowded pebbly beaches. I stayed in a small hotel called Hotel Laurence which had double rooms for 50 euros (May 03). However in high season these prices do increase! Instead, I would suggest you could fly into Marseilles and then catch a train south to Cassis, then either catch the bus, which runs hourly into the town or get a taxi. DO NOT WALK! I did and it is a very dusty long walk - eventho downhill. You can also get hotel names from the Tourist info at the end of the pier/dock, or wander around yourself to have a look. Some hotels have a pool and balcony views over the bay. If you plan to got in July/August, suggest you reserve a room ahead of time. You can hop on a boat from the front of the docks and take a ride around the Calanques, or be dropped on a beach for the day. The day I went it was windy so those of us up front in the boat got sprayed with sea water - but it was fun - like a ride at the Fair - and everyone was in good spirits. If the sea is too rough, then the boats ...

Costa del Sol (Spain) 31/07/2005


Costa del Sol (Spain) When I was offered a week of Spain I jumped at the chance! Club La Costa was offering a week at California Beach, near Finguerola for only 29 pounds plus airfare to Malaga. We knew that it was early in the season but figured we would take the chance and beat the crowds. Club La Costa is a large development about 30 mins from Malaga airport. You can take a Tiny Train between the Two main parts of the resort: Marina del Sol and California Beach (or as we learned, smile sweetly at any of the porters and they will drive you there!). In this part of Spain it is low season until June 1. So the restaurants and bars at the resort closed promptly at midnight - not at all like the Spain I had heard of where you eat late. Eventhough you have the main pool to yourself, this is for a VERY good reason... it is NOT HEATED. There is a smaller heated swimming pool, however, we were unsure whether or not that was naturally heated by the oodles of munchkins splashing around in that pool! The unheated pool took your breath away -- it was ICY! So instead we decided to lounge by the pool with our chaise longues set low to keep out of the wind that came off the water, and imbibe of the specials of the day. Beverages. Alcoholic ones! There was a barbeque grill, but they didnt have much luck differentiating between rare (rocho) and cold. You might even find a frozen slice of veg in the middle of your mixed seasonal vegetables! We found out later that the head chef had left without ...

General: Bermuda 13/07/2004


General: Bermuda Imagine a tropical isle where you dont need to learn another language and you DONT have to feel guilty! Bermuda is another world is a philosophy and a song by Hubie Smith, best heard when sung late at night by a gorgeous local man (BUT I DIGRESS!) When you first fly into BDA (via BA or DELTA) all of a sudden the dark Atlantic changes to a turquoise jewel and voila! there you are, in paradise Bermuda is pristine and this comes at a price - there are no 25 euro rooms, but you DO have a choice between resorts and bed and breakfast with the Bermudian hospitality that is second to none. You cannot rent a car - this is strictly regulated to keep the traffic somewhat controlled, but you can rent a moped WITH a helmet and at least 3 or 4 minutes of instruction on how to ride! Which is on the LEFT for you Brits, as BDA is the largest British Colony, now that HK has reverted. There are more Churches and Golf courses per capita than anywhere else, so if either of these appeals, you have it made. But for me there is a choice between the HEALTHY tour and the SLEEZY tour. The first one involves getting up early and taking a swim or a stroll or on your rented bicycle or moped or even a horseback ride on the beach. Then lunch at pool side, and an early night. The second approach is where you party hearty until dawn, then have Bermuda breakfast at a small cafe - Codfish and Potatoes - sounds odd but is LOVELY. Then you recover by sunbathing and sleeping on the ...

Negril (Jamaica) 08/07/2004


Negril (Jamaica) Seven miles of the best beach I have seen and MINE all MINE for 7 days! When my friend Seveen (at invited me to celebrate her half-a-century, it sounded the perfect place to go, especially on a winters day in February. I booked with Air Jamaica who has direct flights to Montego Bay, whereas the other airlines went to Kingston. Then I booked transport to Negril from JUTA via their online which gave me a $5 US discount each way. I was worried that I was going to be late getting to Heathrow airport, but when I got to the Air J desk I was the only one waiting - another great reason to fly them. (Plus none of their flights from the UK westward have been cancelled recently either!) And imagine my smile when they announced the Champagne flight - yes! Free Champagne, wine, beer, rum all the way there. And on a Thursday when I flew, there was plenty of room to stretch out. Plus Jerk Chicken, Peas and Rice for supper - a nice change from other recent flights! Arrived in Mo Bay around 7 pm, and met by friendly JUTA folks, I sat up front in the minibus (Me brave soul) and enjoyed the hour or so ride to Negril on the NEW ROAD! Arrived at Bar-B-Barn, the funniest sounding name for an hotel but couldnt have picked a better place. Our room was a double with two double beds, airconditioned, windows on two sides so a nice cross breeze, TV with cable (so I can get caught up on my American sitcoms whilst awaiting my turn in the shower) and plenty of ...

Wall's Solero Orange Fresh 04/07/2004


Wall's Solero Orange Fresh Caio is featuring ALL my favourite products - this one is exactly like it says on the package! ORANGE! and FRESH! The first bite is FULL ON ORANGE -- yummy -- and not heavy like some frozen desserts. It comes in a tub that COULD be shared with 2 or even 3 people, but I personally like to start with a bowl and a scoop or two, But then I find myself returning to the tub, and ultimately finishing the WHOLE thing! I am a sucker for orange anything, and this product has the crisp citrus taste, with a creamy yogurty product, and bits of fruit in there for interest. I can almost fool myself into thinking I am having my daily ration of fruit in this product... IF I eat the whole tub! If you are cost conscious, you prob make your own ice cream, or perhaps buy the no-name, store brand? But if you like quality and rich taste without being as heavy as full fat ice cream, this product will appeal to you. I do not recommend it for a family of four, because there isnt enough to share, but if you are a single guy or gal -- perfect!! There are other flavours too, red fruits, but I like the orange the bestest! There! Are you curious? Did this make you want to check out the product? PS it also TASTES and SMELLS like ORANGE! NOW... IF you dont want to spoil the surprise, look away now! According to Wall's own words on the internet: "NEW Solero Orange Fresh - a smooth ice-cream sorbet, covered with orange juicy water-ice, yet ZERO fat and only 77 ...

WeightWatchers Lemon Slices 01/07/2004


WeightWatchers Lemon Slices If you have a sweet tooth, but are watching calories, there is still hope! Weight Watchers has some excellent puddings (?) for us sweeties. These have a moist cake with a lemony icing - enough for a good taste when you need a finish to a meal or just because ... I must admit, however, that they are extremely MORE-ish, so confession time -- I had MORE THAN ONE! okay, so I ate the WHOLE package!!! BUT.... I didnt feel as guilty as I might have, say, should I have eaten a WHOLE Sara Lee Chocolate Cake - which I have been known to have done. I really applaud WW for recognising that those of us who are not as skinny-as-a-rake do like a treat now and then.. I also loved the chocolate Orange variety which is also featured in New Products on Ciao this week. If you are concerned about price, you are probably NOT watching calories... and if you are concerned about Calories, you will probably look at the package before you make the decision to buy. But, if you are intrigued with the product and curious if it is as LOVELY as it sounds, then I have done my job and been helpful. or not. Zorro PS it smells like Lemon and it tastes like Lemon, hence the name of the product!

Cadbury Dairy Milk And Shortcake Biscuit Ice Cream Bars 30/06/2004


Cadbury Dairy Milk And Shortcake Biscuit Ice Cream Bars If you have a sweet tooth, this one's for you! It's a biscuit! No! Wait! It's a cake! No!! There's MORE! It's ice cream! It's DAIRY MILK too.... Perhaps it's ALL FOUR FOOD GROUPS! With the summer coming and going - today was a scorcher, and what nicer than an ice cream bar on steroids? The condiment market in the UK continues to grow in leaps and bounds. No need to mention the calorie content, it probably has traces of nuts in it - so better to say it might then not and risk a problem. And what else can you say about ice cream - or is it really ice milk? and since it is vanilla, I suspect you already know what that is like... It's not any cheaper or dearer than other similar treats. Plus as it says on the wrapper, it includes Things to Do! As if gorging yourself isn't enough! And strangely enough, it is out just in time for Father's day - or did I miss it? Dadbury's??? Has Caio lost its spelchek again? Couldnt resist.... Zorro ...

Days Inn Gateway, Washington, DC 28/06/2004


Days Inn Gateway, Washington, DC Day's Inn is a good chain of hotels, as long as you are teetotal. Or not drinking. Or happy to go elsewhere for a drink. Because the Day family does not have a liquor license for their hotels, they do not want it. The hotels themselves are of a good standard. From a UK perspective you would rate them 3 stars. As Washington tends to be a pricey place, staying at a Day's Inn is an economical way to go, as some of the other hotels are extremely expensive. You can expect to pay around $100 US per night and there are good American style breakfasts available. Days Inns have different classifications with different price breaks. But you can be sure to get a comfortable room, large by UK standards, and helpful, friendly staff. AND you dont have to worry about the staff drinking because there are.... NO COCKTAILS! You have been WARNED.... Zorro ...

Oxford Apollo Theatre, Oxford 02/12/2003


Oxford Apollo Theatre, Oxford Last night we went to the opening night of Copacabana (CORRECTION: Barry Manilow's Copacabana) at the Oxford Apollo. This is a review of the Oxford Apollo, because there is no category for Copacabana (BUT you will also get a mini bonus review, just like on DVD!) This theatre is in the heart of Oxford and was scheduled for refurbishment and re-branding as the NEW Theatre (which it was called before it was renamed Oxford Apollo). It is just a short ride from the Park and Ride and then just around the corner. I went there with two local girls who said it was always called the New Theatre and they did not know of an Old Theatre (or just A Theatre). (Though they did explain to me about the Playhouse which was funded by Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.) The Oxford Apollo is sadly in need of this facelift! The carpet was in the pattern Cruise Ship Nightmare and the airconditioning only worked in the lobby, or perhaps that was just that they had all the doors open in the interval. During the intermission, we made a bee-line for ice creams and they had only ONE person at the refreshments and we only guessed at ice cream as there was no sign. Once acquired we positioned ourselves next to the door / breeze and had 3 or 4 people come up to us to ask us WHERE'S Ice Cream? (We should have gotten a commission. I started posing with mine held aloft!) The stand had a sign that there was no diet coke or water there, but had a fridge full of high-octane coke - go figure! Could they ...

Mykonos in general 30/11/2003


Mykonos in general After experiencing another UK Summer, I was inspired to head for Mykonos! I was somewhat intimidated since Mykonos has a reputation for being a young person's place. I flew EasyJet from Luton UK airport (my favourite airport) to Athens. It is a no-frills airline but even parking is simple (you can book it at the same time as you do your flight) and the airport is easy to get into and back out of! Then I transfered to Olympic for the flight to Mykonos. You can also take a ferry, instead, but it is about 5 or 6 hours on the ferry, versus less than an hour to fly there. And I wanted to hit the beach! A friend's daughter was working at a nearby resort, so she found me a place to stay and it was unique! It was a traditional Greek cube style cottage, which had been carved into a hillside, so the interior had not only a stone floor, but the platform bed was carved into a cave! This meant the room stayed cool, with the windows open and the lovely Mykonos breeze, too. It was very hot - the mornings started at 32C or 82F - according to the temperature reading on my newest mobile/cellphone! However, this inspired me to get up fairly early and head for the beach cafe, where there was lovely greek yoghurt with organic strawberries, pain au chocolat, orange juice etc, included in the price of the room. And the view was of the sea and sand, before all the sunbathers arrived. Each morning the staff would meticulously sweep everything up from the night before, and it was very ...

General: France 26/11/2003


General: France Our remaining Euros from our last trip to Calais were burning a hole in our pockets, so we decided to take advantage of the excellent 24-hour return ferry from Dover to Calais. It cost 40 pounds sterling - about euro 64 for a car and 4 passengers from the UK to France, leaving at 12:30 and returning the same time on the next day. Plus P&O Ferries give you a voucher for 3 bottles of wine - just be sure to get them on the WAY OVER to France, as the offer states (though if you sound pathetique enough, you MIGHT be able to talk them into giving you the wine, on the way back to the UK). Instead of stopping in Calais, we drove on down the coast of Normandy. We decided to save Dunkirque for another day, so headed west. We took the slow route, and stayed off the A16 toll road on the way there, so we passed through several towns, including Boulogne, which has a magnificent Bascillica and an old walled town. We felt like Goldilocks, as this town was TOO BIG, but the next place down the coast, was Le Touquet-Paris-Plage, which felt JUST RIGHT. Le Touquet is about 50 miles from Calais, and you can make it there easily in an hour, via the motorway (110 kmph or 66 miles an hour). It is a nice drive, and you can watch for the sculptures as you pass under on the overpass/fly-overs representing different sports: Fishing, Hunting,etc. An example of how much more interesting driving is in France. You may also notice that the French, will indicate or leave their 'blinker' on as they ...

Paros (Greece) 26/11/2003


Paros (Greece) Despite being the hub of Greek Island ferries, Paros has a laid back attitude, outside of the high season of July and August. We did some island hopping at the beginning of June and were pleasantly surprised at how much Paros has to offer. Originally we only planned to stay overnight, en route to one of the more famous islands in the Cyclades, but I ended up staying for 5 days. We landed in Paros Town / also known as Paraika and followed the first person who offered us a room to their small hotel, Manolis / Jimmy's apts heading left about 800 metres (or yards) away from where we docked. The manager was named Kiki and she had spent her first 15 years in Australia. She was very helpful and pleasant, despite the demands of her young daughter, Maria. On the plus side, this hotel was 1/2 block from a beach, restaurants, bars, etc. but it was on the bus route, so could be noisy! My friends moved down the beach to the Parian apts, which was further to the left where the road ended and beyond, but it had a pool. On the downside, it cost about 50 percent more. I moved into the Old town, near the Church of 100 doors. The story is that they have counted 99 doors and when they find the 100th, then Constantiople/Istanbul will return to Greek rule. I stayed at Captain Manolis, which has rooms, with their own patios, in a private garden setting. My ceiling fan kept my room cool and it was convenient to be able to wander thru the narrow streets of the old part of Paros and ...
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