Sunday 26 June 2016

Alfriston, Sussex

At the foot of the South Downs, the village of Alfriston is dotted with half-timbered buildings with lead-paned windows and period lamps.

Cycling the South Downs Way, Southease to Alfriston, Sussex

Approaching one of the many gates that can interrupt your ride on the South Downs Way
Big skies, lush grass and a rolling route: The South Downs Way in Sussex. The roundtrip from Southease station to Alfriston is about 22km with 450 metres of climbing - an enjoyable and energising workout on a mountain bike.

Friday 24 June 2016

Le Vieux Port, Cannes, France

Île Saint-Honorat, near Cannes, France

About a mile off shore from Cannes, the peaceful and petite Île Saint-Honorat has been home to a community of Cistercian monks since the fifth century. About one mile long and four hundred yards wide, the island houses the elegant Lérins Abbey, which is predominantly 19th century and superseded an earlier fortified monastery that still stands on the shoreline. The monks produce wine, welcome tourists and run a restaurant.

Mercure Cannes Mandelieu Hotel, Allee des Cormorans, Cannes La Bocca, France

Unless you are visiting the Cannes Mandelieu Space Centre, Mercure Cannes Mandelieu Hotel is in a very poor location. It sits in the middle of a battered industrial park in the shadow of Cannes airport. Although the bus station is nearby, there is very little public transport and taxis are expensive. It is a convoluted walk to the beach and it is about 7km to glitz of Cannes' beating heart. Moreover, some of the rooms are external to the hotel and can be noisy - you reach them via an external walkway overlooking a courtyard. And the furnishings are fairly basic. Still, the Wi-Fi works, the pool is picturesque, the staff are helpful and the hotel sometimes runs a free shuttle bus into Cannes in the mornings and the early evenings. But none of that can compensate for the dreadful location. 5/10

Friday 3 June 2016

Dean's Yard, Westminster, central London

A peaceful oasis in the heart of London, Dean's Yard is tucked away behind Westminster Abbey and seems to be missed by most tourists. This area originally housed monastic buildings and the Abbot's garden known as "The Elms". Today, it is a rich jumble of historic ecclesiastical architecture. On the east side, the Abbey administrative offices and Westminster School buildings still incorporate much of the 14th century cellarer's quarters and guest house, according to the Westminster Abbey web site. On the west side is the Abbey Choir School and to the south is Church House. The quadrangle of grass was first laid out in 1815.