Pembrokeshire’s banks are rolling in it

It strikes me as somewhat ironic that the hedgerows which envelop me along this shady lane are called Pembrokeshire Banks. Because while the rest of the world’s banks fall into crisis and collapse, these ones are proffering a wealth of natural wonders. These traditional stone field boundaries, known locally as Cloddiau or Clawdd, unlike drystone walls, are bedecked with grass and wildflowers, thanks to the turf and soil stuffed in between the stones, providing not only a windbreaker and boundary, but also a haven of natural and indeed, rich, habitats. This also creates the perfect habitat for walking in Pembrokeshire.

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Oh Derry Boy

It is always uplifting to hear the sound of the organ playing when you enter a cathedral. But nothing was going to prepare me for what followed when I visited St Columb’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Derry City last week. I was already ensconced in the guided tour in Derry by Martin McCrossan of the eponymous guided tours company. He had come highly recommended as the man to get if you want to tour the city, and within minutes of walking the walls of this extraordinary city, crammed full of history and stories, I knew why people talked so highly of him.

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Walking holiday on Brittany’s pink granite coast

“Don’t forget to pack your umbrella!” a French friend laughed, somewhat smugly, down the phone from his apartment on the Cote d’Azur, when I told him I was going on a walking holiday in Brittany. But he had got to me, as I kept a fervent eye on five day forecasts and, finally, dug out my raingear. I felt bad as I had persuaded a good friend, Katie, to come with me, a mother of two young boys who had just packed in her night shift job, desperately needed some rest and, ideally, sun. I optimistically sent her Facebook messages to pack suncream and swimsuits, despite my Riviera rival’s mocking sneers still haunting me.

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Climb every Mountain

I always secretly wanted to be Julie Andrews. Leading children merrily across Alpine pastures, with songs to fix every dilemma, and Christopher Plummer hanging on my every note. So, walking in the Alps in late May, (albeit French, not Austrian), with my husband and two sons, the snow-capped peaks glistening in the distance, and Edelweiss-covered meadows underfoot, I was, at last, given the chance to become a veritable Von Trapp.

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