Thursday, 23 April 2015

Rolls Royces at the Guildhall, central London

Only very high-end motors are allowed to park outside the City of London's Guildhall.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Hanseatic Walk, central London

Post work drinkers gather outside the Oyster Shed bar on Hanseatic Walk in the shadow of Cannon Street Station

Sunshine on the Scoop, More London, central London

Office workers congregate in the sun trap created by The Scoop - the 1,000 person sunken amphitheatre in the More London development opposite The Tower of London.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Breithorn Chalet Hotel, Route Ramey, Champoluc, Valle d'Aosta, Italy

More than 100 years old, the Breithorn Chalet Hotel exudes traditional Alpine solidity and period charm. Built from sturdy timbers and dry stone walls, this handsome hotel retains many original features, including paned windows, rustic old floors, wooden vaulted ceilings and even a massive vintage bellows in the comfortable lounge. Next door is a small library, lined with old books. These communal areas sit on top of the very spacious dining room, plus a sauna and steam room, in the basement. Upstairs are 31 en-suite bedrooms of varying shapes and sizes spread over four floors. Although the hotel WiFi only works downstairs and the bedrooms can be a little compact, they have plenty of charm, are well equipped and are comfortable. Some rooms also have small wooden balconies and fine views of the mountains. And larger families might be able to secure two adjoining rooms, if you book early enough. The staircases are decorated with crude, but charming, sketches of the local wildlife and the hotel in the early twentieth century.

The Finsteraarhorn, Switzerland

An ariel view of the west face of The Finsteraarhorn, the highest peak in the Bernese Alps and the highest summit in the Alps lying outside the main chain, according to Over 4,200 metres high, The Finsteraarhorn is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch World Heritage Site in Switzerland.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Campo Base, near Frachey, Aosta Valley, Italy

At the top of the chair lift up from Frachey, Campo Base is a cut above the average mountain restaurant. It serves excellent and substantial panini (4-5 euros), creamy crepes (7-8 euros) and more substantial fare, such as a generous veal stew with polenta (about 12 euros). The delicious focaccia bread panini filled with ample ham and cheese is particularly good value. A low rise wooden building, which seems to be partially submerged into the mountain, Campo Base is festooned with Tibetan prayer flags, while the wooden walls are lined with framed photos of Tibet. By Champoluc standards, the service is fairly smooth, if a little slow. You find a table and then queue up to order at the till. The waiting staff then bring your food and drinks over. Campo Base is a good place to eat lunch. 7/10 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Ristorante Le Petit Coq, Champoluc, Aosta Valley, Italy

The place to cook and eat protein-packed mountain food, Le Petit Coq offers raclette, fondue and the like in a cosy wooden chalet near the village of Champoluc. If you are staying with one of the British tour operators, they can book you in for a set meal and taxis in both directions for about 30 euros per adult and 17 euros per child. After you arrive, your waiter will light the stoves on your table and bring you a big plate loaded with chunks of raw steak, chicken and sausage - you use skewers to cook each meaty morsel in bubbling oil in a pot. You need be careful to keep the meat on the skewer.

Edelweiss, Albergo, Bar, Ristorante, Loc. Crest, Champoluc, Aosta Valley, Italy

Housed in a substantial wooden and stone building near the top of the first gondola above Champoluc, the Edelweiss is well located for beginner skiers using the nursery slopes, rather than intermediates and experts. In practice that means it can be less crowded than its rivals elsewhere on the pistes.  Inside the golden wooden decor is well illuminated by the huge windows. You can sit in the restaurant and enjoy waiter service, or in the bar, meaning you need to order from the till. Either way, you can choose from the menu offering a mixture of Italian mountain favourites, including crepes, risotto and pizza, typically costing 10 euros or less. It all tastes pretty good, although the service can be erratic, meaning the dishes can be delayed and might arrive lukewarm. 7/10