Room Service for Sanity at the Hotel Santa Catalina

  ‘Twas the night before holiday and in our mad house the Crev was a-slumbering, no sign of our mouse. The packing was finished, a taxi arranged, all was quite organised, but that would soon change. The quiet was shattered by panic above: ‘The Crev’s being sick!’ cried Papa, ‘the poor love.’ So that’s how our Easter…

A London Art-U-Cation with Le Meridien at Frieze

A luxury hotel, lashings of fine dining and a whirlwind of contemporary art? Chez Epicurienne, that’s what I call a killer combination that I’d be happy to dive into on any day of the week. Courtesy of the Le Méridien hotel group, I was recently invited to partake of just such a tantalising synthesis of…

A Taste of Tavolara

It’s hard to imagine an island of 5 square kilometers becoming a kingdom on the whim of a royal visitor, yet that’s exactly what happened to tiny Tavolara, off the east coast of Sardinia. When King Charles Albert of Sardinia visited Tavolara in 1836, he bestowed independent royal status upon it and decreed that resident…

I’m in an Ape (ah-pay) State of Mind

Check out the cutest little car in the world: the limited edition Ape (pronounced ah-pay) Calessino, manufactured by the Vespa kings – Piaggio. I’m doing a good job of breaking the tenth commandment this week… It’s a far cry from the little Ape workhorses to be found chugging along Italy’s country roads or delivering a…

A Bellini with a View at the Centurion Palace, Venice

A long time ago, in happy-go-lucky, freewheeling times, I lived in Venice. It wasn’t a long-term thing; just a summer internship over the course of a few months, but it was long enough for me to fall head over my Supergas in love with the place. When I returned to London, there remained some Venetian experiences on  my Bucket List that…

Sardinian Free Range Pork

Driving from Cagliari to Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda gives the option of two main routes: one zig-zags you up the island on an efficient, wide autostrada (the SS131); the other snakes precariously around the sheer cliff faces of the east (the SS125). Never again do I want to travel the second way. At various junctures along this serpentine route signs…

Bar Gelateria Del Molo, Porto Rotondo, Sardinia

Porto Rotondo is a place of fantasy: an artificial port and marina filled with luxe and super-boats. The one below is charming instead of the usual gin palace that’s the size of a house on water. The sad thing is that these super-vessels only get used for a few weeks each summer. The rest of the…

Hotel Pullman, Marseille Palm Beach

Marseille: an ancient city renowned for many things, among which number its huge commercial port, a small crime problem, the legendary Château d’If and fine bouillabaisse. The city lent its name to the French national anthem, la Marseillaise, pastis was born here and Marcel Pagnol took childhood walks in the lush Parc Borély. I suggest that we add to this hall of fame the Hotel Pullman Marseille Palm…

Planes, trains and hot air balloons! A carousel in Provins.

Last year, on a visit to the medieval village of Provins I was delighted by this beautiful little carousel: Sadly, no one was riding the horses or jumping into the hot air balloon basket. The music wasn’t playing and the carousel guardian slouched in his seat, puffing cigarette smoke into the hot afternoon air. The…

A First Class First Taste of Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon seems to pop up everywhere these days, in all sorts of guises, but it wasn’t always the case. I had to reach the grand old age of twelve before relishing my first taste of this fine fish-lover’s fare. My mother and I had been upgraded to First Class (!!) on a transatlantic Pan Am flight, in…

Bicycle in Arles

Cycling in London freaks me out – too much badly-behaved traffic for my liking. But this bike fills me with daydreams of cycling through French fields, with a baguette, a ripe brie and a bottle of something chilled and chablis-like in my basket. I have a red and white gingham picnic cloth, the sun shines, there are…

Su Nuraghe, Sardinia

Picture the scene: it’s late morning at Sardinia’s Cagliari Elmas airport. Monsieur and I have been awake since dawn but haven’t had time for breakfast. The low-cost airline has high-cost sandwiches which we avoid, mostly because they already look curled and cardboardy, and the coffee looks like something that might spurt out of a long-disused farmhouse tap. Monsieur…