Sunday, August 30, 2015
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Crimea is back in the news, at the very heart of the current Ukraine crisis. BRIAN OGLE (pictured above in now out-of-bounds Balaclava harbour in Crimea) recently returned from the land once called The Playground of the Tsars, visiting places like Sevastopol, Balaclava, Yalta and the site of the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War.

FOR many travellers and especially those interested in military history, The Crimea has always had a mysterious almost mythical magnetism ... a strange faraway place on the borders of Russia but one which has played a pivotal role in major world conflicts in the last couple of centuries.



Green fingers of the aristocracy


Looking for a spring break in a beautiful and colourful setting not too far from home, leaving behind the gloom of the UK Winter - then ROBIN NOWACKI recommends a visit to the châteaux gardens of France’s Loire Valley...

IN THE centuries before the French Revolution the Loire Valley was where the aristocracy of the day built their châteaux and laid out fabulously ornate gardens - competing with each other in how fine and grand they could possibly make them.



Palms, pines, and the rich and famous

Regular contributor ANDREA McVEIGH finds sunny Southern California’s Palm Springs full of surprises...

FROM palm trees to pine trees - I hadn’t expected snow in Palm Springs. Yet here we were, more than two miles above street level on a lovely late-January day, surrounded by snow-dusted pine trees and looking down over this glorious part of sunny Southern California. Palm Springs is full of surprises.



A world apart in West Cork...

By Colin McAlpin

IT isn’t just a bunch of the boys who whoop it up in beautiful West Cork … it’s the sort of place where everybody feels on top of the world. West Cork, indeed, is a world apart.

Gerry Burke, who runs Coastal Guided Walks in the area around Clonakilty, is also a well-known actor – he was in Braveheart – so, since this is West Cork, a walk along the seashore, through a flower-filled forest, reciting the ballads of Robert W. Service seems to come naturally. And for good measure we threw in a couple of Percy French songs since Gerry is also a big fan of the Mournes.



Biggar and better for Burns’ weekend

Address to a Haggis is a ‘Rabbie’ Burns classic, and an offally good one at that! KIRSTY WILKIE headed to Biggar for a traditional and relaxing Burns’ weekend...

IT was an early start for us - we are never usually wake at 4.30am on a Saturday morning - but we had a ferry to catch and didn't want to miss it. The 7.30am Stena Line ferry to Cairnryan left on time, with the three of us safely onboard. I am a pretty regular ferry traveller, choosing it before flying (of which I have developed a fear) but this was my first time onboard one of the new ferries serving Loch Ryan port.



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