Heading north in search of fantastic lights display

Darlington and Stockton Times: COLD COMFORTS: The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, where guests snuggle down in sleeping bags for a night on the ice

2:28pm Friday 11th April 2014

A glimpse of the Northern Lights in all their glory would be near the top of most things-to-do-before-you-die lists. But northern Norway has much more to offer, as Vicki Henderson found out

Hotel is Holmes from home for Sherlock fans

Darlington and Stockton Times: 221B OR NOT 221B? : The Sherlock Homes Museum is enjoying a revival thanks to the latest television series

3:37pm Friday 4th April 2014

I OPENED the bedroom door and Benedict Cumberbatch was inside staring straight at me. Not in person, I should add, before his fan posse of “Cumberbitches” go into a frenzy of delight, but on the cover of a glossy men’s magazine on a table in the room.

Grand ‘Dev’ proves a gastronomic delight

Darlington and Stockton Times: COUNTRYHOUSE SPLENDOUR: One of the bedrooms in the Old Wing of The Devonshire Arms

2:42pm Friday 28th March 2014

AS we were driving to the Devonshire Arms, near Skipton, from our home near Darlington, I couldn’t help pondering the hotel’s name.

Traddock Hall is a quality refuge from the storm

Darlington and Stockton Times: AWARD WINNING: Traddock Hall from the gardens on a good weather day

4:15pm Friday 21st March 2014

I LOVE the towns and villages of North Yorkshire – seriously, I do. Richmond, with its stately castle and wide, cobbledmarket place, Settle (more cobbles), the bustling port of Whitby and lively markets of Masham and Leyburn, to name but a few. So I looked on a visit to Skipton as a real treat. But maybe not on this particular day.

Texas hits right spot for cowboys and girls

Darlington and Stockton Times: ECO-FRIENDLY: San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas

3:54pm Friday 14th March 2014

I THINK from now on we'll call you Bang Bang Bailey, says the friendly receptionist at the Mayan Dude Ranch in Texas.

Children in dreamland with Disney-on-the-sea

Darlington and Stockton Times: WELCOME ABOARD: Captain Mickey on the Disney Magic Cruise Line

11:21am Friday 7th March 2014

AS someone whose childhood did not involve a lot of Disney, those Mickey ears are a constant source of amazement.

Former gallows spot now fizzing with life

Darlington and Stockton Times: Scottish gem: part of the Grassmarket

3:12pm Friday 28th February 2014

ON the other side of the castle from Edinburgh’s highclass shopping streets lies the Grassmarket district of Scotland’s capital.

Marathon recovery is historical experience

Darlington and Stockton Times: HISTORY: The gateway to Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia

4:18pm Friday 21st February 2014

THE temperature is rising sharply with the morning sun and my legs are feeling heavier than I would like. It is still just 7am and I am beginning to wonder if I will have the energy and strength to pull myself round the last six miles to get to the finish line of this half-marathon course.

Northern lights and a steppe into the ice age

Darlington and Stockton Times: REMOTE: A picturesque traditional farmhouse in Iceland - agriculture has declined dramatically because of soil erosion

3:38pm Friday 14th February 2014

NOW darkness has engulfed the gnarly volcanic landscape, it’s hard to determine where land ends and the sky begins.

There’s a getaway to suit any sort of lovebird

Darlington and Stockton Times: TASTEFUL: The Sir Francis Terry Suite at Middlethorpe Hall and Spa

2:10pm Friday 7th February 2014

Treat your loved one to a naughty – or nice – weekend away this Valentine’s Day

Aski resort that is fit for the Spanish royal family

Darlington and Stockton Times: WINTER WONDERLAND: The church of St Eulalia in Unha Village, Val d’Aran

3:41pm Friday 31st January 2014

I’VE been to Barcelona on several occasions, but spent most of my time sitting on the beach rather than seeking snow.

Cobbles, kippers and a carefree walk along river

Darlington and Stockton Times: SUNSHINE BOYS: Jack (right) and George with Eric Morecambe

4:09pm Friday 24th January 2014

NEVER judge a book by its cover, my mum told me regularly when I was growing up, and for most of my life I’ve heeded her wise words. How I wish I’d remembered them when we arrived at our hotel for our weekend away in Lancaster.

Time to leave any troubles behind and let yourself be pampered

Darlington and Stockton Times: VENUE: Raithwaite Hall is an idyllic spa hotel a few minutes’ drive north of Whitby

3:33pm Friday 17th January 2014

SATURDAY, December 7: one of the busiest shopping days of the year. But as increasingly desperate gift-hunters headed for the MetroCentre or Amazon, my wife and I set a rather different course.

Where eco-tourism is not just a buzz word

Darlington and Stockton Times: BLUE BEAUTY: Baros, in the Maldives, is one of the oldest diving centres in the Indian Ocean

4:25pm Friday 10th January 2014

BREAKING off the beautiful, fragile coral, his flippers creating a cloud of debris which muddies the water, Arnie doesn’t even look up at the divers observing his wanton destruction of the reef that everyone else is trying to save.

An audience with the Queen of the ice desert

Darlington and Stockton Times: NATURE HOLDS THE REINS: A tourist in the Arctic desert, Spitsbergen

4:07pm Friday 3rd January 2014

GRIPPING their harness tightly, I try with all my might to stop the eager pack of husky dogs from tearing loose. But not even a fleet of armoured tanks could halt these powerful animals and dampen their desire to run.

Madness of Tunisia is definitely for the birds

Darlington and Stockton Times: A-MAZE-ING: The Medina is well worth a visit

12:32pm Monday 6th January 2014

THE falcon's timing was mercifully impeccable.

Falling on my feet in a wonderful Alps resort

Darlington and Stockton Times: VIEWS: The Swiss Alps overlooking the village of Commeire Valais in Switzerland

11:21am Friday 20th December 2013

LYING on my back with my legs in the air is a predicament I’ve became accustomed to on ski trips. And just a few hours after arriving in the Swiss Alps, I find myself in that all-too familiar position once again.

Daughter’s delight at the yellow submarine

Darlington and Stockton Times: RELAXING: The ‘Martian’ looking landscape at Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote

12:59pm Friday 13th December 2013

WHEN you book a holiday in sundrenched Lanzarote, you may not expect to end up on a submarine. But that is exactly where we found ourselves, to the delight of my three-year-old daughter Evie.

Copenhagen: a tasty place for a quick visit

Darlington and Stockton Times: ATTRACTION: Colourful Nyhavn, a waterfront popular with tourists in Copenhagen

3:04pm Friday 6th December 2013

AS host to one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe, Copenhagen has always been a popular winter city break destination. But thanks to a dynamic food scene and the opening of several world-class restaurants and cafes, there’s now even more reason to head to the Danish capital.

Partaking in a very Portuguese passion

Darlington and Stockton Times: INDULGENCE: The 15th-century Convento do Espinheiro, which has been converted into a hotel

2:26pm Friday 29th November 2013

I AM sitting in the cloisters of a 15th century convent sipping wine and eating a rustic dish of tender partridge, flavoursome chorizo and Portuguese rice. No, I have not joined a religious order, I am in what is now a luxurious five-star hotel, on a culinary tour of Portugal’s Alentejo region. In other words, I am in food heaven.

Archer makes tragedy of Mary Rose hit home

Darlington and Stockton Times: NO TOLL: Visitors can view the ship’s bell from the Mary Rose

3:38pm Friday 22nd November 2013

STANDING tall in a glass cabinet, his skeleton cuts an imposing figure – dominating the room as he would have done more than 450 years ago.

Gazing in awe as Northern Lights put on a show

Darlington and Stockton Times: LIGHT FANTASTIC: the Northern Lights on the Vesteralen Islands of northern Norway

12:03pm Friday 15th November 2013

IT’S pitch dark and I’m flat on my back on a frozen lake in the middle of nowhere. Above me, it seems that almost half the sky is lit up with a sash of minty-green light that appears to ripple and dance.

More fun than meets the eye in Blackpool

Darlington and Stockton Times: HANGING ON: The Pepsi Max Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

1:13pm Friday 8th November 2013

WINSTON Churchill is looking disapprovingly at us and Harold Wilson is smoking his pipe.

’Tis the season to go to the markets

Darlington and Stockton Times: ALL THE FUN: The funfair at Hamburger Dom

12:02pm Friday 1st November 2013

AS a Segway zips past, I almost choke on my chestnuts when I realise who’s behind the wheel.

Mulling over a stag-eringly good place to holiday

Darlington and Stockton Times: POINT TO PROVE: One of the five majestic stags that wander freely around the red deer park in the Galloway Forest

3:47pm Friday 25th October 2013

NO fairytale this. Rather a true story about the rarest of plant life, glimpses of a peregrine falcon, a close-up of a magnificent red deer stag, a lone badger and a legion of snails descending on a remote lighthouse.

Aremote beauty spot with lots to shout about

4:01pm Friday 18th October 2013

IT DOESN’T take much persuasion for Lars Erikkson to burst into song. Lowering his chin, until it almost reaches the curled-up tips of his reindeer- skin boots, he bellows out a gruff melody with full gusto. The closest neighbours in the village of Flakaberg may be 17km away, but he’s making a good attempt to reach them.

Get a regal taste for a special French region

Darlington and Stockton Times: FOOD PARADISE: Markets are a great place to sample the many delicacies the Le Tarn region has to offer

4:27pm Friday 11th October 2013

NO matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to get my suitcase shut. Sitting forlornly on the bed is a bag of pink garlic bulbs, purchased from a farm close to Albi, just outside Toulouse. A round of stinky cheese and a few bottles of biodynamic wine will also have to stay this side of the Channel.

Coastline is the perfect spot for sole searching

Darlington and Stockton Times: SCENIC: The coastal path around La Fosca, on the Catalan coast in Spain

4:08pm Friday 4th October 2013

AS the waitress liberally pours whisky over the large slab of cake in front of us, we don’t feel a pang of guilt – because we know we’ll be walking it all off tomorrow.

Ferry and campsite prove to be a good way of going Dutch

Darlington and Stockton Times: ATTRACTIONS: Amsterdam proved an ‘illuminating’ experience for the boys while, Duinrell Parc offered plenty of family fun

2:58pm Friday 27th September 2013

FRIENDS and family said we were brave, but probably thought we were foolhardy – seven nights in a mobile home with four children aged between 15 years and four months. Is that wise?

Double act hit the mark on relaxing quick cruise

Darlington and Stockton Times: CAFE CULTURE: the market square at St Peter Port in Guernsey

12:24pm Friday 20th September 2013

THE wide blue bay is a vision of paradise in the early morning sun: golden sand, a gentle breeze and the curving beach almost to myself, apart from a few children fishing for crabs among the rocks on the foreshore.

Fresh image flows in as area recovers from war

Darlington and Stockton Times: SCENIC: the Danube flows through beautiful Budapest

3:04pm Friday 13th September 2013

MUCH food for thought here. As the Danube – no longer the blue hue immortalised in the waltz by Johann Strauss, but rather a murky green – flows south, it reflects many of the hard-fought changes taking place in this once war-ravaged part of Europe.

See the sights on these choice short breaks

Darlington and Stockton Times: ON YOUR BIKE: The scenic Graslei area in Ghent's old town, where the bike is now king after cars where banned

2:45pm Friday 6th September 2013

Few hotels can boast a bar built around a national monument, but rather than being made of bricks and mortar, the treasured centerpiece of Masseria San Domenico’s al fresco dining area in Puglia, Italy, is a living, photosynthesising organism.

Don’t scoff at the idea of Tyneside food – just scoff it

3:11pm Friday 30th August 2013

TWENTY years ago, when I was last in Newcastle, the idea of taking a holiday in this proud city would have appealed only to football fanatics, stag night masochists and all-night clubbers who never know when they are beaten.

We’re all excited to be holidaying in North-West

Darlington and Stockton Times: LOCATION LOCATION: The Hillbark Hotel, which was moved brick-by-brick in the 1920s

2:30pm Friday 23rd August 2013

THERE was time to appreciate the wisdom of Sir Ernest Royden’s decision to move his home as I sat in the back of the Rolls-Royce waiting for the electronic gates to open and release us from the 250 acres of Wirral parkland in which the Hillbark Hotel sits.

Weekend away is real breath of fresh sea air

Darlington and Stockton Times: WATER VIEW: Plymouth shines in the summer sun

3:12pm Friday 16th August 2013

GAZING out of the train, I gasp as we reach the Devon coast and the sea flashes into view.

The clouds lift on views which thrill and inspire

Darlington and Stockton Times: ‘WORTH IT’: a view of Folgefonna Glacier in Norway, an area which offers great scenery for people willing to make the effort

2:32pm Friday 9th August 2013

THE instructions from the mountain guide sound like a punchline: “A cowboy mouse on the way to Everest,”

Great green getaway – Peter would be proud

Darlington and Stockton Times: POTTERING ABOUT: A vew of Lake Windermere

3:26pm Friday 2nd August 2013

IT’S HARD not to fall in love with Beatrix Potter’s charming children’s stories: Peter Rabbit getting caught in Mr McGregor’s garden, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle working hard to wash and iron everyone’s clothes, and Jemima Puddle-Duck desperate to hatch her eggs.

Discover sunny side of winter sports paradise

Darlington and Stockton Times: SUMMER FUN: Lake St Andre near Chambery, France

3:33pm Friday 26th July 2013

SLIPPING into the warm sparkling waters, I feel the tensions of the modern world slipping away.

Spoiled for choice over great summer options

Darlington and Stockton Times: VIEWPIONT: Grant Pont and Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Lausanne, Switzerland

4:25pm Friday 19th July 2013

Best for... scenic surrounds Lausanne, Switzerland EVERY night, on the hours between 10pm and 2am, a town crier can be heard calling the time and confirming “All is well” from the steps of Lausanne's gothic cathedral.

Afive-star stay with Bowie... and Motty

Darlington and Stockton Times: TASTEFUL: The Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Manchester at night

2:46pm Friday 12th July 2013

IT’S not often you get to slip into the sheepskin coat of legendary football commentator John Motson – metaphorically at least – and sleep a stone’s throw away from where the likes of Shirley Bassey, Mick Jagger and David Bowie belted out some of their biggest numbers. And this all in the course of one day.

A poetic time at home with the Wordsworths

Darlington and Stockton Times: RYDAL MOUNT: a view to launch a thousand words

2:52pm Friday 5th July 2013

Step inside William Wordsworth’s home and gardens 200 years on – and discover a little of the magic which inspired this great Romantic poet, writes Thornton Stewart.

Our fabulous feast in family’s five-star jewel

Darlington and Stockton Times: THUMBS UP: La Vostra Cantina, a deli in Castelluiccio, Italy

4:44pm Friday 21st June 2013

THERE’S a town in the heart of Italy that has everything. Fascinating history, stunning scenery, fantastic food and world-class hospitality...

Back to School to find forgotten creative side

3:32pm Friday 14th June 2013

I’M NOT entirely sure how I’m supposed to feel about my husband sketching the curved lines of a naked twentysomething female.

Glamour and beauty on Spain’s pilgrim trail

Darlington and Stockton Times: MEDIEVAL: The old town of Oviedo in Asturias, Spain

2:58pm Friday 24th May 2013

THE throb of Spanish guitars and the frantic click of castanets provided thrilling accompaniment as I was swept by coach into the Basque country.

Potter-ing about as we relax in Lake District

Darlington and Stockton Times: BIG FAN: Dragon’s Den star and businessman Duncan Banatyne is ‘in’ when it comes to relaxing in the Fallbarrow area

3:06pm Monday 20th May 2013

AS a child, I was taken mountain climbing. Don’t get me wrong: I loved it. But the strenuous nature of virtually every family visit to the Lake District perhaps blinded me to the idea that you can have a wonderful holiday in Cumbria’s stunning National Park without coming away completely exhausted.

The 'in' inn for good eating out

Darlington and Stockton Times: CONVIVIAL: CB manager Debbie Wood takes a seat by the fire in the welcoming bar

4:11pm Tuesday 14th May 2013

Arkengarthdale once echoed to the sounds of lead mining; now tourists come to enjoy its peace and beautiful scenery. Jenny Needham books into an inn with rooms at the heart of the dale.

Spring is over, but this oasis still needs visiting

Darlington and Stockton Times: HISTORY: The front of a house in one of Hammamet's streets

3:58pm Tuesday 14th May 2013

Emily Flanagan travels to Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, and finds a country offering a sincere welcome to visitors.

A gleaming jewel on the Cornish Riviera

Darlington and Stockton Times: PICTURE POSTCARD: The Cornish fishing village of St Ives

3:45pm Tuesday 14th May 2013

In search of a top-notch seaside staycation with his family, Richard Mulligan heads to Carbis Bay and finds Cornish charms galore.

Going Dutch while in cultured Amsterdam

Darlington and Stockton Times: ECO-FRIENDLY: Amsterdam, a city where the bicycle is king

4:01pm Tuesday 14th May 2013

AMSTERDAM in the middle of winter might not be the enticing prospect that it is in the spring – no tulips, for a start – but there are plenty of things to do and see in this cosmopolitan city.

Elegance is par for the course at Close House

Darlington and Stockton Times: STUNNING ATTRACTION: Close House Hotel and Golf at Heddon-on-the-Wall offers so much more than just a round of golf

4:35pm Tuesday 14th May 2013

YOU know you have truly arrived as a leading hotel and golf destination when Lee Westwood promotes your name on an international stage, when your list of celebrity members includes Ant and Dec... and when Alan Shearer helps out as a porter.








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